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Headlines / Quote of the Week

April 19, 2024, News

Emergency Abortions – Idaho and Texas Think Not: For decades, American hospitals have adhered to a federal law called EMTALA that says ERs must treat and stabilize patients experiencing medical emergencies regardless of their ability to pay for treatment. The most restrictive abortion bans in the country butt up against that federal law, The Texas Tribune reports. The Biden administration has sued Idaho, claiming its ban goes against EMTALA. Meanwhile, Texas sued the Biden administration, saying it’s using EMTALA illegally to turn ERs into abortion clinics. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about the Idaho case April 24. The outcome will likely impact the Texas case.

Tesla Safety Problems: Employees of Elon Musk’s Boring Co., headquartered 30 miles outside Austin, have filed multiple complaints alleging unsafe working conditions, according to a recent report in the San Antonio Express-News. Among the allegations: that the company is more concerned about the speed of progress than safety, that employees rarely stay longer than three months, that they operate dangerous equipment with little training or certification, and that they spend long hours in tunnels awash in a chemical slurry that burns their skin. “I fully believe they are going to kill somebody,” technician Myles Ortiz said in a complaint to federal officials, the Express-News reported.

Tesla Layoffs: Meanwhile, Tesla announced on Monday that it would lay off more than 10% of its employees in a bid to cut costs. Two senior executives resigned as well. Musk tweeted news of the layoffs in an early morning email, writing, “There is nothing I hate more, but it must be done,” according to a report from The New York Times. The layoffs come as Tesla is suffering a decline in sales and focusing on the development of a self-driving taxi.

No More D*ck Pics: A federal bill introduced last month would establish laws against “cyberflashing,” the practice of sending lewd images over text without the recipient’s consent. Austin-based Bumble, best known for its dating app, is supporting the legislation. The company has supported a number of similar measures in various states, including Texas, that create penalties for sending unsolicited pics featuring nudity or sex.

A Big Protest Problem: Advocates warn that the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively outlawed mass protests in the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. On Monday, the court announced that it would not hear Mckesson v. Doe, leaving in place a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing Black Lives Matter protest organizer DeRay Mckesson to face a financially ruinous lawsuit initiated by an unnamed police officer who was hurt by a brick thrown at a protest in Baton Rouge. The brick thrower was not Mckesson, however, and the Supreme Court has previously ruled that protest organizers cannot be held liable for the violent actions of those who participate in a protest.

Airport Growing: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is planning up to add at least 20 new gates to expand capacity as it struggles to serve millions more passengers each year than it was designed to handle, the Austin Monitor reported. The planned gates will be located inside a newly constructed building – temporarily dubbed Concourse B – but it won’t be open until the 2030s.

Campus Housing: City Council members are considering a resolution to incorporate a series of amendments to the University Neighborhood Overlay, a program allowing denser developments in the West Campus area, according to a report in the Austin Monitor. The hope is that the amendments will increase the affordability of neighborhood housing and allow the construction of a grocery store.

Room Without a Window: Relatedly, developers have built thousands of windowless bedrooms in Austin since 2002, but now the city may outlaw these builds. Other cities, like New York and Chicago, have their own laws or codes requiring windows and natural light in bedrooms. In Austin, all that’s required is “natural or artificial light.” The majority of these windowless rooms seem to be in student housing, KUT reports.

Oaky Doak: Oak season is here! From now until at least May, those allergic to oak pollen will suffer runny noses and itchy eyes as our city’s many glorious trees release an evil yellow dust. The dust will also settle onto cars and, really, anything left outside, KXAN reports. Enjoy!

Expanding Rehousing: Advocates are calling for the expansion of a rapid rehousing program to help those experiencing homelessness. The city program provides up to 24 months of rental assistance, with the renters’ share of the funds needed rising every few months. However, according to the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, the program only works for about 60 percent of those who enroll in it. “We need to stop these arbitrary time limits and we know the city can do this right now,” JJ Ramirez, an organizer with Vocal Texas, told KUT.

No More Fines For Foster Care Failures: A federal appeals court on Wednesday temporarily halted a $100,000-per-day contempt fine ordered this week for the state’s chronic failure to investigate abuse and neglect in the foster care system, The Texas Tribune reported. Monday, U.S. District Judge Janis Jack imposed the fines in an effort to compel Texas to comply with two separate orders relating to intellectually disabled foster children housed by the state. A hearing in December found that one child at the C3 Christian Academy, which is paid to house children by the state, was cited in abuse and neglect claims 12 times in a single year, KUT reported.

Hays County Buses Get Belts: Hays County school officials have responded to a fatal school bus crash by creating a plan to equip all of the county’s buses with seat belts in about a year. One child was killed last month when a school bus returning to San Marcos after a field trip was hit by a concrete truck, rolling the bus over, KUT reported.

Frank Erwin Center, Farewell: After weeks of demolition, the Frank Erwin Center – for decades the city’s premier concert venue – is now just a skeleton. And soon the remaining girders that supported the drum-shaped structure will be gone entirely, allowing UT to create a huge medical complex where it once stood.

Quote of the Week

“Obviously, I know about President Trump. I’m a female.”

– A potential juror in Trump’s New York hush money case. She was dismissed after clarifying, “He’s targeted some females.”

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