BG Reads | News You Need to Know (December 12, 2018)



Austin City Council Runoffs: Harper-Madison Wins D1, Renteria Maintains D3 Seat, Ellis Takes D8 (KUT)

Austin voters picked their final three City Council members­ – for District 1, 3 and 8 ­– in runoff elections Tuesday…

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Austin Water report shows big impact of boil order was conservation (Austin Monitor)

Austin Water delivered an “after action” report to City Council yesterday on the weeklong boil-water order enacted during severe flooding in October. The presentation shed more light on what happened to bring about the emergency and what the city might do to avoid future water-boil mandates.

When it issued the order Oct. 22, Austin Water said the murkiness of floodwater had overwhelmed treatment capacity and could endanger water quality. But the more immediate risk apparently was water quantity in Austin’s rapidly diminishing reserve of treated water.

Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said the amount of water flowing into Lake Travis was the most since the Mansfield Dam was built nearly 80 years ago. The city’s water treatment systems could not keep up, resulting in falling reservoir levels…

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Dell Shareholders Approve A Move To Take The Tech Giant Public – Again (KUT)

Shareholders of Round Rock-based Dell Technologies voted Tuesday to take the company public after operating for five years as a private company. The closing of the roughly $23 billion move will happen at the end of the month.

More than 61 percent of unaffiliated shareholders cast a ballot, according to a news release from the company. Of those, more than 89 percent voted in favor of the move.

"We appreciate our stockholders' support. With this vote, we are simplifying Dell Technologies' capital structure and aligning the interests of our investors," said Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO, Dell Technologies. "This strengthens our strategic position, as we continue to deliver innovation, long-term vision and integrated solutions from the edge to the core to the cloud. We've created Dell Technologies to be our customers' most trusted partner in their digital transformation."…

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Lawmakers pledge crackdown on free-standing ER billing practices (Houston Chronicle)

Texas lawmakers on Monday vowed to crack down on the state's booming free-standing emergency room industry in the wake of a troubling AARP Texas survey and a Houston Chronicle story that both showed how some facilities are sending confusing messages to patients.

The AARP Texas survey showed that 30 percent of the state's 213 for-profit free-standing emergency rooms "appear to not comply fully with state disclosure laws," according to findings presented at a state Senate committee meeting in Austin. The statewide survey also found that 77 percent said they "take" or "accept" major health insurance plans but were actually outside the network for those plans. And when AARP asked the centers' staff directly, less than half were able to answer a "yes" or "no" question about health plan coverage…

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Developer backs out on buying historic Dallas Morning News campus after Amazon HQ2 bypasses Dallas (Dallas Morning News)

A development group is dropping plans to purchase the historic Dallas Morning News building in downtown Dallas. An affiliate of Dallas developer KDC and investor Hoque Global signed a contract in October to pay $33 million for The News' more than 7-acre former campus on the southwest side of downtown.

The developers pitched the property at Young and Houston streets as a site for Amazon's sought-after second headquarters project. But Amazon decided last month to bypass Dallas, one of 20 finalist cities, and split its $5 billion investment between Washington, D.C., and New York City. The developers exercised a clause that allowed them to cancel the purchase of The News property from parent company A. H. Belo Corporation. The contract with KDC and Hoque Global gave the buyers an inspection period through Dec. 14 and the right "to terminate the agreement at any time and for any reason" before then…

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Cornyn, Turner unlikely allies in support of liquefied natural gas export terminal and pipeline project (Houston Chronicle)

Although their political parties are on the opposite ends of the climate change debate and other issues on Capitol Hill, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner have found a topic to agree on.

The Republican senator and Democrat mayor have become unlikely and bipartisan allies in their support of a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal and pipeline project that face stiff opposition from environmentalists and community groups in the Rio Grande Valley. The Republican senator and Democrat mayor have become unlikely and bipartisan allies in their support of a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal and pipeline project that face stiff opposition from environmentalists and community groups in the Rio Grande Valley. Over the past week, Cornyn and Turner have filed open letters to members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to voice their support for NextDecade Corp.'s Rio Grande LNG export terminal at the Port of Brownsville. The proposed project includes a pipeline that will move natural gas from the Agua Dulce hub near Corpus Christi to the deep South Texas waterway…

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State Rep. Carol Alvarado poised to replace Sylvia Garcia in Texas Senate (Texas Tribune)

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, appeared to have won the special election to succeed former state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, narrowly avoiding a runoff against House colleague Ana Hernandez, according to unofficial results late Tuesday.

With all precincts reporting Tuesday night, Alvarado won 50.4 percent of the vote to 24.3 percent for Hernandez. Alvarado appears to have averted an overtime round by 59 votes out of 15,084 total.

Hernandez conceded, according to her campaign…

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In Fight With 'Chuck And Nancy,' Trump Says He'd Be 'Proud' To Shut Down Government (KUT)

In a testy Oval Office exchange with the two top congressional Democrats, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, President Trump made clear he would be "proud" to shut down the government in less than two weeks if he doesn't get funding for his border wall.

"I'll be the one to shut it down. I will take the mantle. And I will shut it down for border security," Trump told House and Senate Democratic leaders as Vice President Pence sat by stoically.

The statement from Trump came in an extraordinary show before the cameras and the press, with minutes of tense back-and-forth with both Pelosi, the likely incoming House speaker, and Schumer, the Senate minority leader…

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Farm Bill Compromise Reached With SNAP Changes Out, Industrial Hemp In (KUT)

Lawmakers unveiled the much-anticipated farm bill compromise Monday night, ending the months-long impasse over whether a critical piece of legislation that provides subsidies to farmers and helps needy Americans buy groceries could pass before the lame-duck session concludes at the end of the year.

The agreement was reached after a proposal — backed by House Republicans and President Trump — to add stricter work requirements for those who receive food stamps was taken off the table.

The behemoth piece of legislation will cost $867 billion over 10 years, according to House committee staffers.

Of course, it's not law just yet.

The bill must still pass both the House and the Senate and be signed into law by the president, but that could come as early as this week…

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Trump’s judicial nominees take heat but largely keep marching through Senate (New York Times)

The Senate narrowly confirmed Jonathan Kobes as a federal appeals court judge on Tuesday even as the American Bar Association questioned his understanding of “complex legal analysis” and “knowledge of the law.”

Mr. Kobes, a 44-year-old aide to Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, is the second of President Trump’s judicial nominees to be confirmed after the bar association deemed them unqualified. A number of other Trump nominees have raised concerns, including five who also received the unqualified rating. Others were rated as qualified but carried with them politically or racially insensitive remarks from their past that resurfaced during their confirmations… 

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