BG Reads | News You Need to Know (April 30, 2019)



Final vote on Austin City Council’s land code rewrite policies scheduled for May 2 (Community Impact Austin)

After a 12-hour debate and postponement April 25 on a vote for a set of policies on land use reform, Austin City Council has scheduled a special called meeting for May 2 to finish the discussion and vote.

Scheduled for 1 p.m. inside City Council chambers, the meeting will have the local lawmakers finalizing a policy framework on what has proven to be the most polarizing issues in the effort to rewrite the land development code. After producing foundational policies to which a majority of the 11-member dais consents, City Council will hand the direction off to the city staff tasked with producing a new land development code.

The community has been working to rewrite its outdated and confusing land development code since 2012. The effort came to a head last summer when, after several years and more than $8 million spent, a team of city staff and consultants produced a third draft of a new land use code for City Council consideration. However, after hearing from a heavily polarized community, City Council voted to kill the process and start anew… (LINK TO STORY)

Here Are The Regions Austin ISD Is Using In Its Plan To Close Schools (KUT)

Austin ISD announced in February its plan to close and consolidate schools, and now it has a clear plan for how to choose which ones.

To make this decision, AISD administrative staff divided the district into seven regions. The regions aren’t based on attendance zones, and don’t match school board districts. The point of this is to make sure closing and consolidations don’t happen in just one area of the city.

The district and board of trustees are going to make decisions about which schools to close in the context of these regions, which Matias Segura, AISD’s operations officer, says may vary from region to region. For example, one region may want more dual-language learning programs and more AP classes at the high school, while another region may prioritize school overcrowding and better teacher retention… (LINK TO STORY)

See also:

BG Podcast Episode 38: Nicole Conley- Austin ISD CFO

ACL Fest’s $264M economic impact comes with $5M gift to parks foundation (Austin Monitor)

The 2018 Austin City Limits Festival pumped more than $264 million into the Austin economy, according to data released Monday by festival organizers and the city. That represents an increase of more than $10 million in impact created by the 2017 edition of the festival that runs for two weekends each October in Zilker Park.

The announcement came during a press conference at Edward Rendon Metro Park where C3 Presents, the Austin-based festival promoter that launched the festival in 2002, presented a check for over $5 million to the Austin Parks Foundation. The money will be used in coordination with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to fund improvements at parks throughout the city.

To date C3 has donated more than $35 million for parks improvements throughout the city, in addition to paying for reconstruction and installation of an irrigation system for the Zilker Park Great Lawn… (LINK TO STORY)


Texas House passes bill that reduces penalties for Texans caught with small amounts of marijuana (Texas Tribune)

After a brief discussion, the Texas House gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill that would reduce the penalties for low-level possession of marijuana — a move lauded as a win by those eager for the state to take its first major step toward loosening its staunch marijuana laws.

But hopes of turning the bill into law remain slim. After the House grants final approval for the bill — usually just a formality — it will head to the Senate, where presiding officer Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has expressed opposition to the idea of loosening marijuana possession penalties.

The lower chamber voted 98-43 in favor of House Bill 63 by state Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, after he changed it on the chamber floor from a decriminalization measure to one that reduces the penalties for possession. The bill lowers possession of 1 ounce or less from a Class B to a Class C misdemeanor, which is the same classification as a traffic ticket… (LINK TO STORY)

Voters in Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio have marquee mayoral races on Saturday ballots (Texas Tribune)

Voters in some of Texas' biggest cities are heading to the polls Saturday to decide who should be their mayor.

In Dallas, a crowded field is vying to succeed term-limited Mayor Mike Rawlings. InFort Worth, Mayor Betsy Price is seeking an unprecedented fifth term. And in San Antonio, Mayor Ron Nirenberg is up for a second term.

The races are non-partisan, though some are unfolding through a more partisan lens — like in Fort Worth, where Price's main opponent is the chairwoman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, Deborah Peoples.

The three cities are among Texas' five most populous, home to a combined 3.7 million people. The state's largest city, Houston, will hold its mayoral election in November, and a spirited contest is already underway between incumbent Sylvester Turner and two challengers… (LINK TO STORY)

Texas Is Bringing Back Cursive To Elementary Schools (KUT)

Handwriting is making a comeback in schools across the state. Currently, the majority of Texas school districts don’t teach students to write in cursive, but that will change in the 2019-2020 school year.

Second-graders will learn how to write cursive letters and third-graders will learn how to write complete words and answers in cursive writing. Cursive will also be a requirement in fourth and fifth grade.

The new learning standards, which the State Board of Education approved in 2017, reflect the growing science that backs the benefits of handwriting… (LINK TO STORY)


Attorney General Barr threatens not to testify before House, but Democrats may subpoena him (New York Times)

The powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee threatened on Sunday to subpoena Attorney General William P. Barr if Mr. Barr refuses to testify this week, a move that could lead to a major escalation of the long-running feud between the White House and congressional Democrats over testimony and access to documents.

The threat by the chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, came on the eve of Democrats’ return to Washington after a two-week congressional recess that has been dominated by questions about the special counsel’s report. Mr. Barr is scheduled to come before Mr. Nadler’s committee on Thursday to testify about it… (LINK TO STORY)

New EPA document tells communities to brace for climate change impacts (Washington Post)

The Environmental Protection Agency published a 150-page document this past week with a straightforward message for coping with the fallout from natural disasters across the country: Start planning for the fact that climate change is going to make these catastrophes worse.

The language, included in guidance on how to address the debris left in the wake of floods, hurricanes and wildfires, is at odds with the rhetoric of the EPA's own leader, Andrew Wheeler. Just last month, Wheeler said in an interview with CBS that "most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out."… (LINK TO STORY)


BG Podcast Episode 43: A Palm School Discussion with Bingham Group Senior Consultant Paul Saldaña

On today’s episode Bingham Group Senior Consultant Paul Saldaña, and CEO A.J. Bingham update on discussions around Austin’s Palm School.

Located at Cesar Chavez and I-35, Palm School was Austin’s second elementary school, and served generations of students from the city’s Mexican-American community during its 84 years.

Travis County is considering whether to put the building up for sale or a long-term lease, and there are some who don't want its cultural history gone.

Check out Episode 43 here!

The Bingham Group, LLC is an Austin-based full service lobbying firm representing and advising clients on municipal, legislative, and regulatory matters throughout Texas.


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