Stuffed agenda for City Council today (May 21) with the next step in challenging Travis County commercial property valuations, a proposal to raise the minimum wage for city workers, and the return of taxi franchises and Decker Lake golf. See "Council: Taxes Are Challenging."
Speaking of property taxes, the city released a consultant's report this week on Travis Central Appraisal District commercial valuations, with the takeaway that, for the last three years, commercial properties have been undervalued by an average of 47%. Council hopes to use the information to support a potential challenge to the TCAD valuations. See "Point Austin."
Disabled protesters were arrested last night outside Gov. Greg Abbott's Capitol offices after "blockading" the doorway for several hours, demanding that the state budget raise wages for home-care attendants to $10 an hour from the current $7.86 rate.
Austin animal shelter volunteers are asking City Council to consider funding paid dog walkers to fill high demand. Last month, the city auditor released a report which spelled out the larger problem: The shelter doesn't have enough resources to adequately sustain Austin's no-kill policy.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the convictions of Dan and Frances Keller, who spent more than two decades in prison after being convicted (wrongly, many now presume) in 1992 of aggravated sexual assault of a child. However, the nine-judge panel failed to exonerate the now-divorced couple. The case now returns to the district attorney's office, which can consider outright dismissal.
The identities of execution drug manufacturers will become secret, as lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1697, making that data confidential. Legislators claim it is to keep vendors safe from threats, but Texas struggles to find supplies of pentobarbital as European manufacturers refuse to sell it to death penalty states.
A mass shootout in Waco between rival motorbike clubs Los Bandidos and the Cossacks left nine people dead, 18 injured, and 170 arrested. The incident triggered immediate debate about the imminent passage of open handgun carry in Texas, while the police intervention was compared to recent unrest in Baltimore, with the hashtag #WhiteThugs trending on Twitter.
Tax deal? What tax deal? Texas lawmakers have agreed to go with the House's plan for a 25% franchise tax cut and the Senate's $10,000 statewide property tax exemption increase. However, there's still no consensus on when they should go into effect, a major stumbling block to completing the budget.