BG Reads | News You Need to Know (January 31, 2019)



Who’s serving on City Council committees? (Austin Monitor)

Under city ordinance, “Council committee membership will be determined at the first council work session of each calendar year. Council members will select the council committees on which they will serve.”

The ordinance also states, “the mayor in consultation with the council shall designate a chair and a vice chair. Council may consider changes to Council committee membership at any Council work session.”

After a lengthy discussion at Tuesday’s work session, Mayor Steve Adler said he would name the committee chairs and vice chairs after consulting with Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza. He told the Austin Monitor on Wednesday night that he had not yet had time to consult with Garza on the matter…

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New City Agreement With ARCH Would Shift Focus To Housing (KUT)

The Austin City Council will vote Thursday on renewing the contract of Front Steps – the operator of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. The new agreement could bring systemic changes to the city's homeless shelter.

One of those changes would reduce the number of beds from 190 to 130 and focus more resources on helping people transition out of homelessness. It would also phase out the first come-first served model that often turns to a lottery system for admissions. 

At times, the city has "asked too much" of the ARCH, said Ann Howard, executive director of the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition. The new model, she said, would move people in and out more quickly…

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Amid rapid growth, Bee Cave wants to update development code (Austin Business Journal)

Austin isn't the only rapidly growing city in Travis County putting its land development code under the microscope.

City leaders in Bee Cave, west of Austin, want to update rules and regulations for development to reflect current practices and remove contradictory or obsolete laws. The city is using a request for proposals process to find a consultant that would analyze the city's existing ordinances and recommend revisions.

"The current zoning and subdivision chapters are outdated and reflect a time when the city of Bee Cave was primarily undeveloped and sparsely populated but beginning to grow," according to the draft RFP. "The new development codes should reflect the fact the city is a developed, suburban municipality with opportunities for continued new development as well [as] redevelopment of commercially obsolete properties" along State Highway 71 and RM 620…

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With Austin City Council’s vote on Oak Hill Parkway looming, area residents offer mixed reactions (Community Impact)

Rick Perkins, a resident of the Granada Hills subdivision in Southwest Austin, lives about 500 feet from the site of the future Oak Hill Parkway. The proposed 12-lane project on Hwys. 290 and 71 has his full attention. And support.

“I have lived here over 18 years,” he said. “The majority of the people who live in Oak Hill—myself included—want to see the Oak Hill Parkway built ASAP.”

As Austin City Council prepares to vote Jan. 31 on a $3.3 million contribution to the estimated $545 million project, Southwest Austin residents are speaking out…

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Texas quietly informs counties that some of the 95,000 voters flagged for citizenship review don't belong on the list (Texas Tribune)

After flagging tens of thousands of registered voters for citizenship reviews, the Texas secretary of state’s office is now telling counties that some of those voters don’t belong on the lists it sent out.

Officials in five large counties — Harris, Travis, Fort Bend, Collin and Williamson — told The Texas Tribune they had received calls Tuesday from the secretary of state’s office indicating that some of the voters whose citizenship status the state said counties should consider checking should not actually be on those lists.

The secretary of state’s office incorrectly included some voters who had submitted their voting registration applications at Texas Department of Public Safety offices, according to county officials. Now, the secretary of state is instructing counties to remove them from the list of flagged voters…

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State lawmakers aim to lock in funding for Texas parks, historic sites (Texas Tribune)

For nearly a decade, the Texas parks department has hoped to turn a 4,400-acre swath of pristine forest in North Texas into what some hope could be the "metroplex's playground."

About 80 miles west of downtown Fort Worth, the already-named Palo Pinto Mountains State Park — with a scenic ridge overlooking a lake and more-than-ample space for camping — promises to be a huge recreational draw.

But the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has struggled to secure funding from the state Legislature to install the infrastructure that would make the park fit for public use…

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Texas' major LGBT chambers of commerce just united to avoid another bathroom bill (Dallas Morning News)

Four of Texas' major LGBT chambers of commerce are uniting to form a coalition that plans to advocate on behalf of LGBT-owned and LGBT-allied businesses in the state.

The North Texas, Austin, Greater Houston and San Antonio LGBT chambers of commerce will serve as founding members of the new Texas LGBT Chambers of Commerce, and plan to hold an inaugural Day of Advocacy at the Texas Capitol on Feb. 20. The move was sparked in part by Republicans' attempts to pass bathroom bill legislation during the 2017 legislative session that would have regulated which bathrooms transgender Texans were able to use…

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Top Texas Democrat rules out funding Trump's border wall as key panel starts work to break impasse (Dallas Morning News)

The only Texas Democrat appointed to the committee that's been charged with wrangling a border security deal –– or else, risking yet another federal government shutdown –– said he was coming into the high-stakes negotiations "with an open mind." Except on one rather significant point.

Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo said on Wednesday that he does not support providing President Donald Trump any money for a wall, fence or other barrier along the border, shutting the door on the very issue that Trump and many other Republicans have declared to be make-or-break. "A wall is the 14th century solution to the 21st century issues that we have on the border," Cuellar said in an interview on CNN, underscoring many Democrats' criticism of Trump's wall as outmoded and ineffective…

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Episode 32: State Representative Sheryl Cole (D-Austin)

(RUN TIME - 11:53)

On today’s episode we speak with Representative Sheryl Cole (D-Austin). Elected in November 2018, she is one of several incoming freshman members representing Central Texas.

While new to the Texas Legislature, Representative Cole is a veteran politician, having served on the Austin City Council from 2006 to 2015. She served as Council Mayor Pro Tem of Austin from 2011 to 2015. She was the city’s first African American woman elected to City Council.

An accountant and attorney by training, Representative Cole got her start in public life stepping up in her local PTA, and organizing community support for our schools as one of the Tri-Chair’s to the AISD Bond Committee in 2004.

She was recently assigned to the powerful House Ways & Means Committee, as well as respectively the Committees on County Affairs and Redistricting…

Link to Episode 32

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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