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Fri., March 8, 2013

The Maker Faire kept people entertained and occupied at this week's SXSWedu conference.
The Maker Faire kept people entertained and occupied at this week's SXSWedu conference.
Photo by John Anderson

City Council meets today (March 7) with a few high-profile items on the agenda: a public hearing and possible vote on the economic incentive proposal for National Instru­ments Corp., how to facilitate historic building moves from Rainey Street, and just how much mandatory parking we need Downtown.

› Austin's long-awaited single-use bag ban began March 1 with little controversy and some stores passing out sturdier plastic bags designed for reuse. Predictably, a Panhandle legislator, Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, filed a bill to prohibit cities from interfering with the commercial and consumer "freedom" to litter the planet with discarded plastic.

› San Francisco-based start-up SideCar is pressing Austin to change its regulations regarding carpooling via smartphone. The current policy is that such businesses are unlicensed taxi firms, but Council Member Chris Riley has proposed a resolution for the March 7 Council meeting instructing City Manager Marc Ott to look into new ride-sharing regulations.

Amplify Austin, Austin's multicharity, one-day fundraiser, blasted its own $1 million target by raising $2.8 million in 24 hours. The top three beneficiaries were Hospice Austin ($112,943), AIDS Services of Austin ($58,486), and Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas ($52,994).

› Thousands of Planned Parenthood supporters from across the state are expected to descend on the Capitol Thursday morning for the nonprofit's biennial lobby day in support of women's health issues. A rally on the south steps begins at 10:45am, with visits to lawmakers to follow. Follow the day's events via Twitter at #TXNeedsPlannedParenthood.

› Legislative lesson of the day: If you plan on discussing a bill that would affect sex education, you need not invite any educators to testify on it. During discussion of SB 521, the Senate Edu­cation Committee heard from pro-life activists and a "researcher" from Focus on the Family – but no one with actual knowledge about education or sex. So much for the GOP's beloved principle of local control. When it comes to sex, the state likes its hands down everyone's pants.

› Legislators this week continued to play tug-of-war with women's health. Rep. Jessica Farrar announced Wednesday that she will file legislation to remove the 24-hour waiting period before abortion. Rep. Jodie Laubenberg and Sen. Glenn Hegar countered by filing a so-called "fetal pain" bill, banning abortion after 20 weeks.

Mary Margaret Farabee, a giant of Austin philanthropy and the co-founder of the Texas Book Festival, died this week after a long struggle with cancer. She is survived by her husband, former state Sen. Ray Farabee.

• Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died Tues­day – a polarizing figure, applauded for social programs addressing Venezuela's entrenched poverty, blasted for his political ruthlessness and cavalier approach to the forms of democracy.

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