Stories to follow in 2019: Decisions of Texas Legislature could affect local policy

The Texas Legislature convened Jan. 8.

The Texas Legislature convened Jan. 8.

Image description
Bills to Watch
What we reported State lawmakers say finding relief for rising property tax bills and changing the state’s system of school financing are at the top of the agenda for the 86th Texas Legislature, and local officials are watching closely. On Jan. 15, Gov. Greg Abbott was sworn in for his second term on the steps of the Texas Capitol. In his inaugural address, Abbott said the state “must finally rein in skyrocketing property taxes in Texas.” Abbott has proposed to require a resident vote  if a taxing entity raises property tax revenue more than 2.5 percent over the previous year. Currently, taxing entities such cities, counties and school districts, are able to raise property tax revenue by up to 8 percent without a vote. According to the Texas Tribune, both the Texas House and Texas Senate unveiled budget proposals in January that would significantly increase state funding for public schools. Meanwhile, for the 2018-19 school year, Austin ISD will  for the first time send more than half of its tax revenue to the state in order to help fund districts with lower property values. AISD Chief of Business and Operations Nicole Conley Johnson said she is more confident than in years past that the 2019 legislative session will offer districts with more financial relief than they have historically received.

The latest School finance reform and property tax caps are the biggest issues facing the Legislature, but they are not the only issues that could affect Austin. City Council passed an ordinance in February 2018 mandating employers provide paid sick leave for their workers. That ordinance is currently facing a challenge in the courts, but it also is in jeopardy as some members of the Legislature seek to deem the city policy unconstitutional. Austin Intergovernmental Relations Officer Brie Franco also said this fall that  city policies on fair-chance hiring; local short-term rental rules; and deregulation of publicly owned utilities, such as Austin Energy, could come under scrutiny during this session.

This post is part of Community Impact Newspaper’s Annual Community Guide, which appears in the January 2019 Central Austin print edition. In addition to ten stories to follow for the upcoming year, the Annual Community Guide provides readers with local information on the area’s demographics as well as the latest news in transportation, health care, education and development.
SHARE THIS STORY
By Jack Flagler

Jack is the editor for Community Impact's Central Austin edition. He graduated in 2011 from Boston University and worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in January of 2018.


MOST RECENT

A Capital Metro employee who worked as a bus mechanic has died after testing positive for the coronavirus. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Capital Metro employee who tested positive for coronavirus dies

The individual worked as a bus mechanic. Capital Metro announced April 2 he and three other employees tested positive for the virus.

The Central Texas Food Bank served 1,515 households free food at an event April 4 at Nelson Field in northeast Austin. (Courtesy Central Texas Food Bank)
Central Texas Food Bank serves free food to 1,515 households April 4

Each household received two boxes with about 24 pounds of food each.

(Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Thousands of construction workers this week returned to work in Austin. What are developers doing to ensure safe work sites?

After most residential construction briefly shut down across the city of Austin, home building crews now have the opportunity to return the work.

(Graphic illustration courtesy Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)
‘We’ve got this’: Central Texas librarians step up to help their communities amid coronavirus pandemic

The example in Bee Cave appears to be just one of many stories relating how, amid the COVID-19 crisis, librarians are helping their communities throughout the Greater Austin area.

Local restaurant Emmer & Rye is offering groceries at its Rainey Street location. (Courtesy Emmer & Rye)
Local business efforts to help the community: restaurants open grocery markets; Service Dogs, Inc. donates 18,000 pounds of dog food

Malibu Poke is donating meals to the Central Texas Food Bank, and Santa Rita Cantina is offering customers a chance to purchase meals for employees at Seton Medical Center.

Economic relief options for small business owners include the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Has your Austin-area small business been affected by the coronavirus? Here are resources you can access.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering a short-term loan program intended to help cover payroll and a separate, long-term loan program intended to help business owners stay afloat.

A recent string of incidents where Zoom meetings have been “hacked” has put the future viability of teleconferencing security in doubt. (Courtesy Pixabay)
String of racist attacks via videoconferencing software leads to heightened security concerns

A recent string of incidents where Zoom meetings have been “hacked” has put the future viability of teleconferencing security in doubt.

Austin and Travis County's orders went into place March 25 and require residents to stay home for everything but essential travel. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
5 recent coronavirus stories from the Austin area readers should know

Read local updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

Austin FC and Upper Ninety on March 30 released a guide of resources for local families. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin FC, Upper Ninety compile bilingual resource guide for Austin families

Austin FC and Upper Ninety on March 30 released a guide of resources for local families.

Friday's digital telethon will help Austin metro residents through nonprofits during the coronavirus pandemic.
Donations to All Together ATX will help local residents through grants to nonprofits

Friday's digital telethon seeks donations to help the community

Power lines
DATA: Austin’s residential electricity usage up more than 30% since beginning of March

The total residential electricity usage has increased by more than 31.88% across Austin Energy’s service area since the last week of February, the new numbers show.