BG Note | News - What We're Reading (August 17, 2017)
After months of controversy, Texas bathroom bill dies quietly (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
In the end, the controversial bathroom bill went quietly.
For more than a year, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick led the crusade for a state law to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans — an initiative that resonated with social conservatives, including many pastors, who backed him up. Patrick for months stood firm in his pursuit for a bathroom bill even while similar campaigns in other states fizzled out.
He was met by loud opposition that only grew with time and eventually proved to be a considerable political force.
Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill restricting city tree removal policies session (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Just two months after vetoing a tree removal regulation bill, Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed a very similar measure into law.
House Bill 7 allows property owners to offset municipal fees for removing trees on their land by planting new trees in their place, and the measure is near-identical to Senate Bill 744, which Abbott vetoed earlier this summer. Both bills were shepherded through the legislature by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, in the upper chamber and state Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, in the House.
In special session rubble, spotlight shines bright on Straus (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and his chamber emerged from the rubble of a bruising special session Wednesday as a subject of both intense criticism and speculation about his future as head of the lower chamber.
There did not appear to be any immediate threats to Straus' speakership, though the post-session finger-pointing signaled the intra-party conflict that consumed most of it is not going away anytime soon.
The House abruptly closed out the special session a day early Tuesday, declining to further negotiate on a key property tax bill after it agreed to Senate changes to a school finance package. Over the next 12 hours, both the governor and lieutenant governor of Texas sharply criticized Straus, a fellow Republican, making clear they both believed that the blame for measures that didn't survive should be laid at his feet.
Gov. Abbott slams House, doesn't rule out second special session (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday put blame on the House — particularly Speaker Joe Straus — for the shortcomings of the special session and left the door open to calling another one.
"I’m disappointed that all 20 items that I put on the agenda did not receive the up-or-down vote that I wanted but more importantly that the constituents of these members deserved," Abbott said in a KTRH radio interview. "They had plenty of time to consider all of these items, and the voters of the state of Texas deserved to know where their legislators stood on these issues."
Council to tackle two displacement resolutions today (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
While Mayor Steve Adler is touting a new task force on gentrification as a fresh opportunity to come up with ideas to address economic displacement, some of his City Council colleagues stress that it will only be a worthwhile effort if it is followed by meaningful action from city leaders.
Council is poised to approve two resolutions relating to displacement at its meeting today. One authorizes the city manager to find a team at the University of Texas to do a study on gentrification over the next year. The second resolution calls for the creation of the task force and specifies that at least four of the 11 members should be people experiencing displacement due to economic pressure.