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Posts Tagged ‘Houston’

Getting ready for the first SB4 hearing

All eyes are going to be on this next week. On Monday, June 26, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia will hear the City of San Antonio’s request for a preliminary injunction to block Senate Bill 4, the “sanctuary cities” law, from taking effect on Sept. 1. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) is representing […]

Public testimony on SB4

It was heated, as you might expect. Scores of residents urged City Council on Tuesday to challenge the state’s “sanctuary cities” ban, speaking during more than five hours of public testimony on the eve of council’s vote on whether to join litigation. Council chambers overflowed with residents waiting to testify on Senate Bill 4, which […]

Council may vote on joining SB4 litigation tomorrow

It will happen, though perhaps not tomorrow. Houston City Council is poised to vote [this] Wednesday on whether to join litigation challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ new “sanctuary cities” law, days before the case’s preliminary hearing in San Antonio. The city attorney’s office has recommended Houston sue over the law known as Senate Bill 4, […]

We need better fire inspections

Not good. The Houston Fire Department division responsible for ensuring building safety keeps inadequate records, does not examine buildings on a regular schedule and inflated its inspection numbers, all while exceeding its overtime budget, according to an audit released by the city controller’s office Thursday. The audit for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 is the […]

We could have another Heights alcohol vote

Sure, why not? Heights voters last fall lifted a 105-year-old ban on the sale of beer and wine at grocery stores, but customers still must join a private club if they want to drink alcohol at area restaurants or bars. That means submitting a drivers license for entry into a club database. The Houston Heights […]

Houston will get involved in the SB4 fight later this month

Very good to hear. Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask City Council to vote this month on joining lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ new “sanctuary cities” law, ending months of equivocation on the controversial immigration enforcement measure. If City Council votes to sue, Houston would join San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and several other local […]

Do we really have to have a pension bond vote?

So as we know, the Houston pension reform bill that passed contains a provision that requires a vote on the pension obligation bonds that Mayor Turner intends to float as a down payment. Pension obligation bonds have been floated in the past, by Mayor White, without a vote, but for whatever the reason some members […]

Dallas gets in the fight against SB4

Good for them. Dallas is joining some other Texas cities, including Austin and San Antonio, in taking on the state’s so-called “sanctuary city” law. Mayor Mike Rawlings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, calling SB4 “unconstitutional” and a law that “greatly infringes on the city’s ability to protect” the public. According to Rawlings, the city attorney […]

Mayors (still) against climate change

Someone’s gotta do it. On Thursday, President Donald Trump officially announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, citing the deal’s failure “to serve American interests.” Hours later, governors, mayors, and environmental groups all had a different message: We’ll take it from here. “Donald Trump has absolutely chosen the wrong […]

Super Bowl economic impact was about what we expected

Not too bad. The receipts are in, and February’s Super Bowl LI appears to have been a substantial boon for Houston — albeit with slightly less spending than expected. Gross spending during the nine days of Super Bowl programming, minus the amount of usual tourism displaced by the event, came to $338 million, according to […]

Council passes the 2017-18 budget

With a bit of drama along the way. City Council voted to boost funding for a controversial program that helps district council members tackle neighborhood projects Wednesday, even as it approved an annual budget from which one police cadet class and up to 75 employees’ jobs already had been trimmed. Mayor Sylvester Turner blasted the […]

Firefighters sue over pension reform law

I suppose this was inevitable. Houston’s firefighters pension fund has sued Mayor Sylvester Turner and numerous city officials over the pension reform plan Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Wednesday, putting up another potential hurdle in Houston’s efforts to solve a 16-year fiscal crisis. The Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund argues in the lawsuit […]

When might Houston file a lawsuit over SB4?

Unclear at this time. Responding to calls for Houston to take a tougher stance on immigration legislation, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday he still is reviewing a controversial state law passed this month that allows police to ask people their immigration status if detained. The advocacy group FIEL Houston urged Turner earlier in the day […]

Uber and Lyft come rolling back

To Austin: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed into law a measure creating a statewide regulatory framework for ride-hailing companies, overriding local measures that prompted businesses such as Uber and Lyft to leave Austin and other cities. Uber and Lyft said they resumed operations in Austin on Monday. Lyft also said it would relaunch […]

ACLU joins first “sanctuary cities” lawsuit

From the inbox: The ACLU of Texas and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project have joined the lawsuit challenging Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4), which demands that local governments and their employees engage in federal immigration enforcement practices. The case, City of El Cenizo, Texas, et al. v. State of Texas, et al., was filed earlier […]

Busy hurricane season predicted

Welcome to summer, y’all. The nation’s climate agency on Thursday predicted an above-normal 2017 hurricane season with 11 to 17 named storms, five to nine of them hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a 45 percent chance of the hurricane season that begins June 1 being above normal, a 35 percent chance of […]

No Metro vote this year

One less to worry about. Agency officials expect to begin public meetings to gather input on where expanded bus and rail lines might go in late June. But the critical public response – the money to fund preferred projects via a voter referendum – likely is 18 months away, Metropolitan Transit Authority officials said. “The […]

No changes to HISD magnet programs

Not this year, anyway. Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza this week withdrew a plan to deeply cut funding for the district’s magnet programs over the next three years, shelving a proposal that had angered parents and some school board members who consider the specialized academic programs to be jewels in an oft-troubled school system. The […]

Houston pension reform bill passes

It’s done. The Texas House on Wednesday approved the controversial Senate version of a bill that aims to overhaul Houston’s failing pension funds — over the passionate objections of current and former firefighters. Senate Bill 2190, which passed in a 103-43 vote, now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. But the months of rancor between […]

House and Senate concur on pension bill

One more vote in each chamber, then it’s on to get a signature. The Legislature is expected to take its final votes on Houston’s pension reform legislation within days after a group of House and Senate lawmakers Sunday night hashed out the differences between their chambers’ versions and produced a final bill. Stripped from the […]

Bill King wants you to lower his property taxes

That’s not what he says in this op-ed, but it is the effect of what he’s arguing for, even if he’s not honest enough to come out and say it. Let’s start with the basic point that despite King’s disingenuous attempt to rebrand it, what the city has is indeed a revenue cap and not […]

More “sanctuary cities” plaintiffs gearing up

Local governments are not going down without a fight. On Tuesday, which organizers said was the beginning of a “summer of resistance,” Austin City Council member Delia Garza said the city will move this week to take formal action to stop SB 4 in the courtroom. “I am proud to announce today, with much gratitude […]

Senate passes statewide rideshare bill

It’s a done deal. After a debate among lawmakers over the best way to regulate services like Uber and Lyft, the Texas Senate on Wednesday backed a proposal that would override local regulations concerning ride-hailing companies. House Bill 100 would establish a statewide framework to regulate ride-hailing companies and undo local rules that the two […]

Try to wrap your mind around what I-45 will look like post-construction

Swamplot is here to help. HAVING TROUBLE SIFTING through some of the massive freeway jumbles in the latest plans for that major I-45 reroute between Downtown and the Beltway? This new video (making the rounds this month as TxDOT hosts a set of public meetings to chat about the project) may or may not help you out. The 10-minute animation […]

Lawsuit filed against Houston panhandling ordinance

From the inbox: The ACLU of Texas announced today that it had filed a lawsuit on behalf of three homeless Houstonian plaintiffs adversely affected by the City of Houston’s camping and panhandling ordinances. Taken together, these ordinances illegally deprive homeless Houstonians of shelter, infringe on their right to free speech and ultimately constitute a criminalization […]

Metro begins regional transportation planning

Metro wants your input. We want to hear your ideas for a regional transit plan for the future. METRO, led by its Board of Directors and chair Carrin Patman, is developing a new plan for transit services. It will build on the foundation laid by METRO Solutions, approved by voters in 2003. Our goals are […]

Kinder Houston Area Survey 2017

Here’s the press release. The majority of area residents don’t just feel okay about living in Houston – they would choose to stay in the Bayou City even if given a choice to move, according to the 2017 Kinder Houston Area Survey. The 36th annual survey also revealed that traffic continues to be the dominant […]

Interview with Anna Eastman

Anna Eastman has served two terms as HISD Trustee in District I, which is where I live. She has been a leading advocate for having strong accountability measures in place for schools, she was a frequent critic of former Superintendent Terry Grier, and she was the most outspoken Trustee for passing the recapture referendum, both […]

Senate rejects House changes to Houston pension reform bill

Conference committee, here we come. The Texas Senate on Wednesday refused to concur with House-passed amendments to a reform bill designed to resolve financial problems for Houston’s pension system. Sen. Joan Huffman, a Houston Republican who is the author of the legislation, said the House changes would be too costly and would derail a tentative […]

Mayor Turner’s second budget

It’s about what you’d expect. With pension reform in sight, Mayor Sylvester Turner on Tuesday proposed a combination of departmental cuts, one-time fixes, deferred payments and a dip into city reserves to close next year’s $123 million budget gap. Turner aims to erase the deficit with $51 million in spending cuts – largely from police […]

More on the HISD recapture re-referendum

Here’s the full Chron story about Saturday’s re-vote on recapture. About 84 percent of constituents voted “for” HISD’s Proposition 1, giving the school district the green light to send $77.5 million to the Texas Education Agency rather than let the state forcibly remove some of most valuable commercial properties from the district’s tax rolls. The […]

Revenue cap will be on the November ballot

Here it comes, assuming the pension reform bill doesn’t get mugged in a dark alley. Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask voters to lift Houston’s cap on property tax collections in November, a move that could loosen one of the city’s primary fiscal constraints as it confronts still-hefty pension and debt costs that leave little […]

One last look at the recapture re-vote

There’s a lot at stake here, and not a whole lot of people voting on it. For the second time in seven months, voters within the Houston Independent School District will determine how – and if – it should pay tens of millions to help subsidize districts that collect little in property taxes. The vote […]

Senate passes pension reform bill

Progress. Houston’s pension reform package passed the Texas Senate by a 25-5 margin Monday, as a possible political blockade dissolved to provide the landmark proposal a speedy passage. Mayor Sylvester Turner’s reforms now await a hearing in the state House on Saturday. “I believe this current version is our best chance at significant pension reform […]