BG Reads | News You Need to Know (January 10, 2019)



Austin FC reveals details for ‘Legendary Announcement’ next week, including sweepstakes (Austin American-Statesman)

On Wednesday, Austin FC released details for what it is calling a “Legendary Announcement” next week.

The team is hosting a celebration Tuesday “to make a historic declaration about the future of Major League Soccer in Austin,” according to a news release. The event will take place 3-5 p.m. at the Rustic Tap on West Sixth Street.

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, Austin FC Chairman/CEO Anthony Precourt and Mayor Steve Adler will be the main presenters. Garber is expected to officially recognize the new franchise as the 27th team in MLS.

“Tuesday will be a celebration of civic pride and recognition of the tireless efforts put forth by city leaders and soccer supporters to bring major league sports to Austin,” said Andy Loughnane, the president of Austin FC…

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Sit-Down Scooter Rental Program To Debut In Austin (KUT)

Another dockless scooter company plans to enter the market in Austin – but its users will get to sit down.

OjO Electric, LLC, a California-based company, is launching the first sit-down electric scooter rideshare in the capital. One hundred scooters are expected to hit city streets by Feb. 1 and grow to 250 later in the spring.

OjO says unlike other scooter companies operating in the city, it's trying to be more deliberate.

“We’ve had the opportunity to see [other companies] ‘disrupt,’ and we don’t want to ‘disrupt,’” said Matt Tolan, OjO's vice president of partnership and fleet sales. “Our philosophy is to go into a city, like we’ve done in Austin, and collaborate with key stakeholders.”…

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Rolling in fresh $2B from SoftBank, WeWork buys chunk of downtown Austin (Austin Business Journal)

As it embarks on a radical new phase of its global business, WeWork Companies Inc. appears to be quietly moving ahead with a blockbuster Austin real estate deal.

County records show that last month WeWork purchased 4.7 acres at Red River and East Cesar Chavez streets in downtown Austin, although it's still unclear exactly what's planned for the high-profile intersection that connects the Austin Convention Center to the Rainey Street entertainment district.

The land consists of 3.3 acres west of Red River Street on the banks of Waller Creek and 1.4 acres east of Red River Street that's currently a parking lot next to an IHOP restaurant…

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Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and Dennis Bonnen promise unity in 2019 legislative session (Texas Tribune)

Texas' top three elected leaders are looking to show a united front as the 2019 legislative session begins — and start fresh after the drama of last session.

The so-called "Big Three" — Republicans Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and newly elected House Speaker Dennis Bonnen — punctuated the effort Wednesday morning with a joint news conference outside the Governor's Mansion, where they swore to be in lockstep on an ambitious list of priorities for the session, including reforming school finance and property taxes.

"We are here today to send a very strong, profound and unequivocal message — that the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker are working in collaboration together on a very bold agenda that will be transformative for the state of Texas," Abbott said…

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Dan Patrick dismisses need for bathroom bill in 2019: "It's been settled and I think we won. (Texas Tribune)

The “bathroom bill” won’t be back this session, its loudest champion suggested Wednesday morning.

At a Governor’s Mansion press conference on the second day of this year’s legislative session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — who last session was the top state leader championing the measure, which would have regulated the use of certain public facilities for transgender Texans — suggested there’s no need to bring back the divisive proposal that headlined the last legislative year in 2017, but failed to reach the governor's desk.

“When you win the battle, you don’t have to fight the battle again,” Patrick said, sitting beside Gov. Greg Abbott and recently elected Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton. “I think it’s been settled, and I think we’ve won.”…

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Texas starts 2019 nearly drought-free with its highest water supply since 1993 (Dallas Morning News)

Thanks to a rainy end to 2018, Texas is starting the new year with its highest water supply in more than 25 years. and more than 98 percent drought-free.

Texas is at 89.9 percent capacity of its statewide water supply — about 9 percentage points higher than normal for this time of year, according to a report by the Texas Water Development Board. The amount is the greatest value for statewide storage at the start of a year since 1993. Less than 2 percent of Texas is experiencing moderate drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Those areas include portions of the Texas Panhandle, West Texas and South Texas. The rest of the state, including all of North Texas and Central Texas, is drought-free. "In the last 20 years, the area of the state impacted by drought was lower at the beginning of only two other years (2005 and 2016)," the report states. A year ago, 34 percent of the state was experiencing drought conditions, according to the report. Above-average rainfall between October and December in central, northern and eastern areas of Texas helped to contribute to the state’s current water supply, according to the National Weather Service’s Southern Region office. From September through November, Dallas-Fort Worth recorded 29.21 inches of rain at DFW International Airport — the wettest fall on record. Another 4.55 inches of rain was recorded in December, ending 2018 with a total of 55.51 inches — the second wettest year for the area…

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San Antonio lands Texas’ first ‘opportunity zone’ investment under Trump tax bill (San Antonio Express-News)

Texas has landed its first investment project under a portion of the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul signed by President Donald Trump in 2017 designed to encourage investment in economically distressed areas.

DPR Investments —a San Antonio-based business management company with some commercial real estate holdings — will build a $16-million, climate-controlled self-storage facility with flex space at the Brooks master-planned community of San Antonio’s South Side, officials announced Tuesday. In April, the U.S. Treasury Department designated Brooks and 23 other census tracts in the San Antonio area “opportunity zones” under the Republican tax bill — economically disadvantaged areas where investors can park their capital in long-term investments in exchange for reduced or, if they keep that investment long enough, eliminated capital-gains tax burden. Officials have said the provision could prompt billions of dollars’ worth of new investment in areas with slow economic growth. “Texas is leading the way with one of the first secured Opportunity Zone investments in the country,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “The Opportunity Zone program highlights areas of Texas, like Brooks, that are prime for business investment, and I’m thrilled to see that come to fruition.” DPR Investments, which owns the food truck park StreetFare SA on Austin Highway, has purchased 9.4 acres at Brooks to develop the self-storage facility, according to a news release…

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On the border, little enthusiasm for a wall: ‘We have other problems that need fixing’ (New York Times)

Just minutes from the border in rural New Mexico, the Borderland Cafe in the village of Columbus serves burritos and pizza to local residents, Border Patrol agents and visitors from other parts of the country seeking a glimpse of life on the frontier. The motto painted on the wall proclaims “Life is good in the Borderland.”

“This is the sleepiest little town you could think of,” said Adriana Zizumbo, 31, who was raised in Columbus and owns the cafe with her husband. “The only crisis we’re facing here is a shortage of labor. Fewer people cross the border to work than before, and Americans don’t want to get their hands dirty doing hard work.” President Trump has shut down part of the government over border security and his plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico, and in a prime-time speech on Tuesday night he painted a bleak picture of life in towns like Columbus. He said border residents were suffering through a “humanitarian crisis,” and he described a landscape scarred by violence and prowled by “vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs.” But that is not how Ms. Zizumbo sees it. People in Columbus, she said, opposed the idea of a wall by about a “90-to-10 margin.”…

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BG Podcast Episode 29: A 2019 Conversation with Austin Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison (D1)

(RUN TIME - 26:22)

Today's BG Podcast features a conversation with Austin City Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison. We spoke to her in May on the very first episode of the BG Podcast, and were excited to have her back on.

Elected after a runoff on December 11, 2018 and sworn-in on January 7, 2019, she represents Austin’s Council District 1, encompassing Central and East Austin. The Council Member and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham discuss her 2019 policy priorities, as well as her path to public office.

The Austin Council meets for their first regular meeting on Thursday, January 31.We wish the Council Member Harper-Madison much success in her new role!

This episode was recorded on December 21, 2018.

Link to Episode 29

See also: BG Podcast - Episode 1: A discussion with East 12th Street Merchants Association President Natasha Harper-Madison

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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