The Austin Chronicle


March 17, 2017, News

South by Southwest continues through Sunday. Commuters, find another route.

No regular City Council meeting this week (next is March 23), as council members enjoy a spring break and Mayor Steve Adler plays host to fellow mayors, tech innovators, and musicians around town. See "While Council's Away the Mayor Will Play," March 17.

Ticket to ride: Lege hearings are scheduled this week on transportation network company bills intended to roll back city regulations opposed by major TNCs Uber and Lyft. Adler and council members said the bills would "strip away best practice public safety measures and overturn the will of Austin voters. See "The Texas Hammer," March 17 and "Lege for Sale?" March 14.

Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, caused a stir on Friday with her "Man's Right to Know Act," which mirrors invasive anti-choice legislation by regulating male masturbation and safeguarding "emissions." See "Lawmaker Files Bill Penalizing Male Masturbation," March 13.

Believe the facts: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the proposed GOP health care law on Monday, predicting the Obamacare replacement would cause 14 million people to lose coverage next year, and 24 million within a decade. The CBO also forecast cuts to Medicaid, jumps in premiums for older people, and a premium reduction for younger patients.

The Heidi Group, an anti-choice nonprofit that received $1.6 million in state health grants, has fallen short of its contract promises, according to an Associated Press review. THG has done little outreach to help clinics promote services and failed to create a 1-800 number for patients, among other shortcomings. Neither the state nor THG would tell the AP how many patients have been served so far.

Senate Bill 4, which targets so-called "sanctuary cities," heads to the Texas House State Affairs Committee today (Wednesday). The legislation from Rep. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, punishes cities and universities that don't fully comply with federal immigration requests. The GOP-controlled Senate passed SB 4 in February.

It can wait: The Senate State Affairs Committee approved SB 31 on Monday. The public safety bill from Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would ban texting while driving. Only GOP committee members voted against the measure. SB 31 now moves to the full Senate.

The AIDS United Public Policy Committee confirmed last Tuesday that those living with HIV and who had achieved a "sustained, undetectable viral load" cannot transmit the virus to sexual partners. This news reaffirms policy and advocacy work that expands access to antiretroviral meds.

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