BG Reads + BG Podcast | News You Need to Know (January 23, 2019)
(RUN TIME - 18:48)
Today's podcast was originally recorded on January 8, 2019, the first day of the 86th Texas Legislative Session.
The show features a discussion with returning guest James Hines, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs & In-House Counsel, Texas Association of Business (TAB). James and Bingham Group CEO A.J. Bingham talked TAB’s legislative priorities around economic development and public education, to name a few.
The TAB is Texas's largest business association, representing over 2, 800 businesses, from major corporations to small start-ups. Combined those businesses employ over 2.5 million Texans and drive the economic engine of the state. The association influences policy development and drives legislative decisions in Texas and Washington, D.C. advocating for members’ bottom line.
Note: We recorded in TAB’s new headquarters where minor construction was going on (pardon the light background noise).
Study addresses mobility needs along I-35 corridor (Austin Monitor)
The Texas Department of Transportation is putting the finishing touches on its Capital-Alamo Connections Study, a collaborative effort between TxDOT, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization that began in 2017.
By analyzing inter-regional travel patterns, market conditions and future growth projections, the study is meant to improve mobility by identifying infrastructure, policy and technology solutions. These solutions are broken down in the study and given a general timeline for implementation somewhere between now and 2045.
The original impetus for the study came in October 2016, when Union Pacific abandoned its collaborative exploration of commuter rail service with the Lone Star Rail District to focus on freight transportation. Rather than preserve the commuter rail district and hold out for new future opportunities, CAMPO’s Transportation Policy Board dissolved the group following Union Pacific’s exit, effectively killing the possibility for efficient commuter rail service between Austin and San Antonio…
Michael McCaul announces 2020 re-election bid for North Austin district (Austin American-Statesman)
Almost three months after U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul’s narrow re-election victory and a few days after his Democratic challenger said he’ll try to unseat him again, the Austin Republican on Tuesday announced he will seek a ninth term as a congressman in 2020.
“I am looking forward to continuing to serve my constituents in the tenth congressional district, and will be running for re-election,” said McCaul in a statement to the American-Statesman.
McCaul said he is proud of his legislative work on pediatric cancer, human trafficking, the opioid crisis, border security and terrorism.
“He never really felt like his work was done, and he had a lot more to give to the people of the 10th district,” Steinhauser said.
The 10th Congressional District stretches from Lake Travis to Houston’s suburbs and includes the Austin neighborhoods of Allandale, Rosedale, Crestview, Brentwood, North Loop, St John’s and the Domain…
Dockless Companies Now Face $150 Fines For Scooters Parked In The Wrong Places At UT (KUT)
As classes resumed from winter break Tuesday, UT Austin announced – effective immediately – that improperly parked scooters will be impounded and the scooter companies will be charged $150 per offense.
In September, the university's Parking and Transportation Services department released a list of recommendations and put up signs warning scooter riders against things like blocking sidewalks or ramps.
What counts as improperly parked? Any scooter parked along Speedway and other campus malls that blocks a sidewalk, impeding someone's ability to walk by, or is left in courtyard doorways or stairwells. The university says scooters can be parked only at bike racks…
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pulls Sen. Kel Seliger’s chairmanship after Seliger suggested Patrick aide kiss his “back end” (Texas Tribune)
State Sen. Kel Seliger has been stripped of his post as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, in an escalation of a feud with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the upper chamber.
Announced Tuesday afternoon, the demotion caps a weekend spat between Seliger, an Amarillo Republican first elected to the Senate in 2004, and Patrick. The two have found themselves at odds with one another after Seliger voted against two of the lieutenant governor’s priorities in 2017.
Patrick said the demotion came after Seliger failed to apologize for a “lewd comment ... that has shocked everyone” — a remark made on a West Texas radio program suggesting that a senior Patrick aide kiss his "back end.”…
Texas construction employment reaches record high (Houston Chronicle)
Texas construction employment has reached a record high, according to federal data. The state's construction employment grew by 6.4 percent in 2018, adding 46,800 jobs, the most in the country. Between November and December, typically a slower time for construction, Texas added 4,500 jobs.
Still, construction firms continue to worry about their ability to find the workers they need to grow. Nearly four out of five construction firms surveyed for the Associated General Contractors of America's hiring outlook said they were having difficulty filling positions, and two-thirds said they expected it will be as hard or harder to hire workers in 2019…
State Rep. Eric Johnson declares candidacy for Dallas mayor (Texas Tribune)
Democratic state Rep. Eric Johnson of Dallas announced Tuesday he's running for Dallas mayor, entering a crowded field to replace term-limited Mayor Mike Rawlings in May.
In a statement, Johnson said he has a "proven track record of working well with people from varying backgrounds in order to accomplish great things." The Dallas Morning News first reported news of his mayoral bid.
"I believe I offer the citizens of Dallas a unique combination of experience, energy and creativity when it comes to solving problems," Johnson wrote. "I have represented one of the most diverse House districts in the state for nearly a decade and I've shown that I can bring people together to get the job done for all of our families."…
In 2017, top Texas lawmakers were galvanized for "private school choice." This year, momentum has faded. (Texas Tribune)
Two years ago, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stood on the steps of the Texas Capitol before a throng of waving yellow scarves and urged lawmakers to vote for programs that give parents state money to attend private schools.
This Wednesday, those two top Republicans may not even attend the rally for National School Choice Week, let alone have speaking roles.
Though "school choice" supporters will still excitedly don their signature bright yellow scarves Wednesday, they will likely be fighting an uphill battle the rest of this session to get support in the Capitol…
Senate leaders reach deal that offers possible path to reopen government (New York Times)
The Senate will vote Thursday on two separate bills that would bring an immediate end to the partial government shutdown: one backed by President Trump that includes $5.7 billion for his border wall and another that would simply extend funding for shuttered agencies through Feb. 8.
The plan for the Senate to consider the dueling proposals reflects the first bipartisan action since the shutdown began on legislation that could end the impasse, offering each party a chance to press its proposal. But the move by Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, is far from a guarantee of breaking the gridlock…