CodeNEXT critics postpone petition deadline, averting a May election (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
The political action committee hoping to put CodeNEXT to the voters has announced that it’s changing course and will aim for a referendum in November rather than May.
As first reported by The Austin Bulldog on Thursday, IndyAustin PAC says it will wait until March to turn in the signatures the group is currently gathering on a petition.
The group had originally pledged to submit the petition to the Office of the City Clerk by January, a deadline that could have triggered a May election. The revised timeline would put the question of whether to have a subsequent up or down vote on CodeNEXT on the November ballot, should the clerk certify the petition as valid...
CodeNEXT wrong on PUDs, says commission (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
Waiting for the release of the third and final draft of CodeNEXT has not stopped the Zoning and Platting Commission from continuing to criticize the second draft, even after the commission submitted its formal recommendation last October. One of the main issues of contention discussed at its Jan. 2 meeting was the current system of planned unit developments (PUDs) and how the second draft does little to improve it.
City Council approved the PUD ordinance on June 18, 2008, and since then the zoning tool has been used to accommodate larger development projects, trading flexibility on design for community benefits like green spaces and affordable housing. Four years later, the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan pointed out flaws in how PUDs had played out in practice. “The current code does not adequately guarantee superior results, and the public is often skeptical of these projects,” the plan reads...
In race to replace U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, 18 Republicans look to stand out (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
It looked more like a class photo was underway than a candidate forum as 15 Republicans running for Texas' 21st Congressional District took their places here last week, filling two rows of fold-up chairs. The introductions alone — each candidate got a minute — took up a sizable chunk of the event at the Old San Francisco Steakhouse.
And that wasn't even all of them — three couldn't make it.
In some ways, the primary for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, is not unlike some other open-seat races this year in Texas, where the departures of longtime incumbents have given way to crowded contests to succeed them. Yet the 18-way scrum in TX-21 begs its own category — the closest thing to it among congressional races this year is the 11-candidate GOP race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis...
'We want NAFTA to continue': Gov. Abbott talks trade, immigration and Amazon (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that he was recently with Amazon executives at a ribbon-cutting and asked them, "Why is it that you keep coming to Texas?" He expected them to say low taxes, low regulatory environment, high quality of life and a low cost of living. But, he said during an appearance Friday morning on CNBC's Squawk on the Street, the Amazon representatives said the reason is the state's "top-notch workforce." ... Asked about the status of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Abbott said it's good for Texas and "when the sun sets," he expects NAFTA to continue. "NAFTA is very important and very good for U.S. workers and for Texas," he said, adding that Texas leads in exports to Mexico and Canada. "It's very profitable to our bottom line. We want NAFTA to continue."...
Senate To Vote Monday On Ending Shutdown As Talks Continue (KUT) LINK TO STORY
The Senate will vote at noon on Monday to end the government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the floor Sunday evening and laid out a plan to restore government funding for three weeks and consider immigration proposals, while bipartisan talks continue to end the impasse that has triggered a partial government shutdown since Friday night.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer objected to a vote on Sunday evening, but not the plan to vote on Monday.
"I am happy to continue my discussion with the majority leader about reopening the government," Schumer said. "We've had several conversations. Talks will continue, but we have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward that would be acceptable to both sides."...
Businesses can no longer get tax break for taking clients to the ballpark, thanks to tax overhaul (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY
The box seat tax break has gone bye-bye. Tucked into the massive $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that Congress approved last month was the elimination of the 50 percent tax deduction that firms had long been able to take on business-related expenses for “entertainment, amusement, or recreation.” And that’s sure to get the attention of North Texas businesses who’ve used the perk to help cover the cost of, say, treating clients to games at AT&T Stadium or American Airlines Center. “They spend significant amounts on business development,” said David Epperson, a certified public accountant at Dallas-based Saville Dodgen & Co. “That includes entertaining, ballgame tickets, taking them to a hunting lodge or whatever.”...