Austin City Council unanimously approved resolutions to decriminalize abortion within city limits during a special meeting Thursday.
It comes almost a month after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion. Council Member Mackenzie Kelly was absent.
Following the passage of the “Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone,” or GRACE Act, Council Member Jose “Chito” Vela celebrated the move on the plan he’d pushed forward along with co-sponsor Vanessa Fuentes.
“Nobody in Austin will be persecuted for their choices by the city,” Vela tweeted.
It may lower concerns among healthcare providers who have faced a chilling effect under Texas’ abortion laws and for those who seek abortion-inducing medication, reporting by the Texas Tribune notes. However, clinics could face state licensure and other consequences for providing abortions, pushing them to comply with Texas’ abortion ban.
The resolutions call for the following:
- Amend city code to prohibit discrimination based on reproductive health decisions, making so someone cannot be fired, evicted, denied housing or denied a job for getting an abortion.
- Prevent city funding from being used to catalog reports of abortion, miscarriage or other healthcare acts.
- The city manager is directed to explore the ability to conduct a public education program about long-term birth control with the help of local health partners.
- The city manager is directed to address the feasibility of helping city employees with travel expenses and other benefits to access abortions and other reproductive services not available in state.
Asking police to treat abortion as the lowest priority for investigations is a recommendation by the city council, as the department cannot be ordered by council to adopt it. The Austin Police Department has not yet issued a statement in response to council’s vote.
Other Texas cities have followed Austin’s example, with Denton and Waco city councils considering their own acts.
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Austin is one of the top metro areas where homebuyer income saw the greatest surge during the pandemic and it came at a cost to locals.
A new analysis by real estate services firm Redfin reports that affluent out-of-towers have contributed to surging home prices in metros like Austin. Due to this trend, Redfin notes, many local buyers with lower incomes have been priced out.
“For white-collar workers earning high salaries, remote work is a huge financial boon,” said Sheharyar Bokhari, Redfin senior economist. Jobs with that flexibility, Bokhari says, enable them to move from a tech hub like San Francisco to a more affordable part of the country where they can get more home for their money and even put some toward a rainy day fund.
“It can have the opposite effect on locals in those destinations–especially renters–who are watching from the sidelines as home prices skyrocket while their income stays mostly the same,” Bokhari said.
In Austin, the median homebuyer income surged 19% from 2019 to 2021, ultimately reaching $137,000. In that time, the median home price growth was 48%, just behind Boise, Idaho which was more than 50%.
But the housing market is starting to slow. Redfin says high mortgage rates and unsustainable price growth have driven demand down. In fact, Austin is among the 20 housing markets that have cooled the fastest in the first half of this year.
“People are still moving in from California and they still have enough money to buy nice homes in desirable neighborhoods, sometimes with all cash,” said Austin Redfin agent Gabriel Recio. “But the days of homes selling for 25% over asking price with multiple offers are over. Buyers are no longer as eager now that mortgage rates are up and there’s buzz in the air about the slowing housing market.”
As a result, Recio says, local and out-of-town buyers have an opportunity to buy a home at the asking price or even under.
Redfin carried out its analysis using data from the home mortgage disclosure act to review median household incomes for homebuyers who took out a mortgage, though it doesn’t include buyers who paid using all cash.
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School is back in session—do you know the latest TikTok trends?
With Austin ISD resuming session on Monday, school officials are keeping tabs on the newest TikTok trends that could pose classroom disruptions and property damage.
TikTok trends swept through Austin-area schools last year with the “Devious Lick” challenge, which encouraged students to steal from school property and reportedly caused $15,000 in damages at Round Round ISD; and the “slap a staff member” challenge.
On the distraction end, a substitute teacher was dismissed from Bowie High School in December after bringing in a karaoke machine to class and singing Britney Spears’ “Toxic” for the class on TikTok.
Officials told KXAN they are staying aware of the trends as they change during the 2022-2023 school year and the district will investigate perceived threats. Since TikTok trends vary in severity, they will also evaluate to see which trends could cause harm or not.
Finally, the school district said it does not tolerate violence or bullying and will focus its efforts on protecting students both physically and digitally.