Capital Metro gears up for no-pilot shuttle pilot (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
Austin, the “Kitty Hawk of driverless cars,” will likely see autonomous shuttles ferrying passengers through downtown streets by the end of 2018.
The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Monday revealed new details about a planned yearlong pilot program that will run six electric driverless minibuses in an area between the Downtown Station and the Central Library.
“Capital Metro wants to lead the charge – to be among the first transit agencies in the United States to showcase this technology to our ‘smart’ city,” agency CEO and President Randy Clarke said in a statement issued during Monday’s presentation. “I believe this will be the largest public AV bus pilot in the country.”
City’s paid sick leave ordinance draws criticism during court hearing (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
The city of Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance had its first day in court Monday, when the City Council’s lone Republican, Ellen Troxclair, expressed her misgivings about the law, which is scheduled to take effect Oct. 1.
The hearing Monday before state District Judge Tim Sulak came after several business groups, including the Texas Association of Business, the National Federation of Independent Business and the American Staffing Association, sought a temporary injunction against implementing the ordinance until its legality can be determined.
After 2½ hours of testimony, the hearing recessed at 5 p.m. without a ruling on the injunction request. The hearing will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Austin Java to relocate from Barton Springs to Manchaca Road (Austin American-Statesman) LINK TO STORY
Austin Java cafe and bar will relocate its Barton Springs Road location to Manchaca Road this summer, the company announced Monday.
The Barton Springs watering hole will close its doors July 1 and reopen in early September on Manchaca Road, just north of Stassney Lane in the same strip of shops where the now-closed Strange Brew used to reside.
“As Austin continues to grow at an insane rate, so too does the cost of property tax,” Austin Java wrote in its statement. “To stay in this location would mean a dramatic increase in menu prices in order to stay afloat, and we don’t want our loyal, long-time patrons to suffer as a result.”
Ciclovia on hold while parking proposal creates controversy on Congress Avenue (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
The dream of shutting down Congress Avenue for a daylong bicycle festival is in a state of suspended animation.
City Council made a step toward the idea just over a year ago when it voted on a resolution directing the city manager to explore the potential costs related to the event known as a Ciclovia.
When staff returned in September with a $93,000 estimate that didn’t even include Austin Fire Department costs, passion among the city and its planning partners, Bike Austin and the Downtown Austin Alliance, quickly cooled.
Instead, the Congress Avenue Urban Design Initiative has taken center stage, according to Bike Austin Executive Director Katie Smith Deolloz.
Citizen petition demands city audit (Austin Monitor) LINK TO STORY
A politically diverse group of activists is behind an effort to force the city of Austin to submit to a comprehensive audit of its operations.
A crew of signature-gatherers has been out and about, showing up at public gatherings or standing outside of public buildings, asking whoever passes by to add their signature to a petition to put the measure on the November ballot.
Many of those backing the move were also behind the petition to force a citizen vote on CodeNEXT that is currently being litigated in court. For instance: Fred Lewis, the attorney who has long been involved in efforts to reform city campaign finance and ethics rules; Bill Bunch, the head of the Save Our Springs Alliance; and Nelson Linder, the head of the Austin NAACP.
U.S. Supreme Court rules Texas lawmakers did not intentionally discriminate in drawing political maps (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Extinguishing the possibility that Texas could be placed back under federal electoral supervision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday pushed aside claims that lawmakers intentionally discriminated against voters of color when they enacted the state's congressional and state House maps.
In a 5-4 vote, the high court upheld 10 of 11 congressional and state House districts that the maps’ challengers said intentionally undercut the voting power of Hispanic and black voters, oftentimes to keep white incumbents in office. The Supreme Court found that the evidence was "plainly insufficient" to prove that the 2013 Legislature acted in "bad faith” when it enacted the districts.
In Texas, pharmacists can refuse to fill your prescriptions for any drug — for any reason they choose (Dallas Morning News) LINK TO STORY
An Arizona woman’s viral Facebook post about Walgreens pharmacist refusing to fill her prescription for a drug she needed to induce miscarriage may have some wondering if pharmacists in Texas can do that too. The answer is yes. A change to the Texas Pharmacy Act that went into effect last year gave state pharmacists “exclusive authority” to determine whether or not to dispense a drug--- and they don’t have to explain why.
House Bill 2561 was originally designed to allow pharmacists to refuse to serve patients who might be abusing painkillers. But language added by Rep. Matt Krause of Fort Worth allowed them to refuse to fill prescriptions on moral grounds; Sen. Van Taylor of Plano added exclusive authority, which gives the pharmacists the final say.
Special election to replace Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti draws 8 candidates, including his brother (Texas Tribune) LINK TO STORY
Eight candidates have filed for the July 31 special election to replace former state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, — including his brother, outgoing state Rep. Tomas Uresti, according to the secretary of state's office.
The deadline was 5 p.m. Monday, and among the eight candidates who filed, there are four Democrats, three Republicans and one Libertarian. The candidates had a short window to file — Gov. Greg Abbott announced the special election five days ago.
The contest will determine who will fill the seat of Carlos Uresti, who resigned Thursday after being found guilty earlier this year of 11 felonies related to fraud and money laundering. Uresti is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.
Goodfellow AFB, Fort Bliss to hold migrant children (San Antonio Express-News) LINK TO STORY
The Air Force said Monday that Goodfellow AFB would be one of the two military bases the Pentagon will use to house migrant children. Defense Secretary Mattis was later quoted by CNN and Fox News as saying Fort Bliss also was selected. The Department of Health and Human Services recently conducted site visits at Fort Bliss, an Army post outside El Paso, and Goodfellow, in San Angelo, and two other Air Force bases even as large migrant encampments had sprung up at federal facilities at other locations, one of them in Tornillo, near El Paso.
The Trump administration has ordered the Department of Defense to support camps that could hold migrant children for months or even years, and the Pentagon said last week that the four bases were being considered as places to hold up to 20,000 minors who arrived at the border unaccompanied by their parents.
Trump says he’s ‘surprised’ Harley-Davidson is moving work overseas after tariffs take effect (Washington Post) LINK TO STORY
Facing higher costs from tariffs, Harley-Davidson said it is shifting production of motorcycles sold to European customers from the United States to another site offshore. The European Union imposed tariffs on a range of U.S. products in response to similar levies that President Trump put on steel and aluminum from Europe.
The E.U. tariffs will add $2,200 to the cost of an average motorcycle, threatening “an immediate and lasting detrimental impact to its business,” the company said Monday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. For the rest of this year, the company said, the tariffs will add $30 million to $45 million to its expenses. Rather than pass on those costs to consumers in higher prices, Harley said it would absorb them for now while it begins planning to move production offshore. The full-year tariff bill could reach $100 million, the company said.
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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