100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
Austin City Clerk Jannette Goodall verified a petition to reinstate a ban on public camping, moving it one step closer to the May 1 ballot.
The local nonprofit Save Austin Now submitted more than 27,000 signatures to the city clerk's office on Jan. 19. The city requires 20,000 valid signatures for a petition to be included on the local ballot and verified more than 26,000 of those submitted on Wednesday, according to Goodall's ruling.
"Today's news is a welcome development for Austinites who only want to live in a safe and clean city," Save Austin Now co-founder and Travis County GOP Chairperson Matt Mackowiak said in a statement. "Now Austinites can choose to fix this mess created by Greg Casar and Steve Adler."
Next up, Austin City Council has until Feb. 12 to decide whether to adopt the ordinance changes as written in the petition or call an election for May 1.
In the meantime, Save Austin Now will create a political action committee "to conduct its activities for the election phase," according to a press release.
Austin City Council repealed the camping ban in 2019, after advocates said it criminalized homelessness. Austin Mayor Steve Adler told the Austin American-Statesman last month that the approach "is not working," but added that going back to the previous ban wouldn't address the city's homelessness issues.
Council members will discuss a proposal to partially reinstate the camping ban in four areas around the city on Thursday.
This is not the first time the nonprofit has rallied its supporters. Save Austin Now announced in July that it had collected 24,598 signatures in support of the same petition. Had it been verified, the petition would have been included on the Nov. 3 ballot.
In reviewing the first batch of signatures, however, Austin City Clerk Jannette Gooddall discovered a number of issues, including duplicates and requests from some signers to have their names removed, and ruled it invalid.
Criminal justice reform advocates have criticized Save Austin Now for misleading signers, echoing concerns that were raised during their first attempt. Some University of Texas at Austin students said they felt misled into signing the petition, according to a recent report by The Daily Texan.
Now verified, the fate of the camping ban will be up to Austin voters. In addition to this petition, the city clerk validated two others last month. One proposes four amendments to the city charter, including a shift to a strong-mayor form of government, and the other would add a binding arbitration clause regarding the city's contract with the local firefighters union, similar to the one that exists for police contracts.
- Austin Mayor Steve Adler says camping ban 'is not working' - austonia ›
- Save Austin Now tries again to reinstate camping ban - austonia ›
- No homeless public camping vote on November ballot for Austin ... ›
- Save Austin Now sues city of Austin over camping ban petition ... ›
- Save Austin Now relaunches petition to reinstate camping ban ... ›
- Austin voters will decide fate of camping ban, strong mayor - austonia ›
- Austin City Council's homeless camp housing plan moves ahead - austonia ›
- Austonia's guide to the May 1 local election - austonia ›
- Austin releases phased plan to reinstate camping ban - austonia ›
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic effective June 26, citing the number of current job openings and concern about potentially fraudulent unemployment claims. The benefits include a $300 weekly supplement.
"The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring communities across the state," Abbott said in a statement. "According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment jobs."
TWC listed 837,273 job openings as of Monday afternoon compared to 226,849 unemployment insurance claims filed statewide between March 31 and May 1. An estimated 1 million Texans were unemployed as of March, according to latest estimates released by the state agency.
Some local business owners, including Doc's Backyard Grill owner Charles Milligan, suspect unemployment benefits are deterring Austinites from returning to work. But others agree with economists who say multiple factors are at play, including health concerns and child care availability.
We're seeing lots of posts about how nobody wants to work right now. Just wanted to share our experience.
We received over 60 resumes for a taproom bartender position we posted last week. Every applicant we've set up an interview with has shown up.
People want 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 work.
— Austin Beerworks (@AustinBeerworks) May 11, 2021
Abbott also cited fraudulent unemployment claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received 4.48 million unemployment benefit applications, 611,000 or around 14% of which were tagged as suspicious. Most of those tagged were blocked before any benefits were paid out, according to an April 29 press release.
Federal law requires the effective date of such benefits change to be at least 30 days after the U.S. Department of Labor is notified.
- Reopening Austin offices plan for one-way foot traffic, sanitizing ... ›
- Buc-ee's avoids national workers shortage with benefits - austonia ›
- Austin restaurants struggle to hire workers after pandemic year ... ›
Is it just us, or is the current Austin mask situation confusing? Are we supposed to wear a mask or not, and where? And should we wear one anyway, even if not requested or required?
Austin health orders requiring masks expire Tuesday. What then?
Take our three-question quiz, and tell us what you're thinking.