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With Election Day results tallied, Austin voted in favor of reinstating a ban on camping in certain areas of the city and maintaining the current strong-manager form of government after a contentious race, which saw eight ballot proposals and vociferous disagreement.
Proposition A, charter amendment regarding binding arbitration in firefighters' labor contract: 68.32% PASS
Proposition B, city Code amendment to reinstate restrictions on public camping: 57.7% PASS
Proposition C, charter amendment regarding office of police oversight: 62.8% PASS
Proposition D, charter amendment to move mayoral elections to presidential years: 66.5% PASS
Proposition E, charter amendment to create ranked choice voting for city elections: 58.4% PASS
Proposition F, charter amendment to change to a strong mayor form of government: 85.8% FAIL
Proposition G, charter amendment to add an 11th council district: 56.6% FAIL
Proposition H, charter amendment to adopt a public campaign finance program: 57.2% FAIL
Across Travis, Williamson and Hays counties, all of which include portions of the city of Austin, 220,420 ballots were cast, or around 18.1% of registered voters.
Proposition B, which stems from a successful citizen-led petition spearheaded by the local political action committee Save Austin Now, will re-criminalize sitting, lying, camping and panhandling downtown and around the University of Texas at Austin campus, among other areas. The PAC, which was founded by Travis County GOP Chairperson Matt Mackowiak and local Democratic advocate Cleo Petricek, argued that overturning the ban led to public health and safety concerns and allowed homeless residents to live in unsafe conditions. Opponents, who included most council members, say reinstating the ban will only force homeless residents into less safe parts of town and do nothing to provide housing.
Now passed, Prop B will take effect once the election results are certified, which usually takes a couple of days. Texas lawmakers are also considering a statewide camping ban, in response to recent policy changes in Austin.
Austinites for Progressive Reform, another local PAC, also led a successful citizen-led petition campaign, getting Props D, E, F, G and H on the ballot. The response from voters to this package of reforms, which the group argued would increase voter turnout, was more mixed. Voters passed Props D and E but failed Props F, G and H.
Austinites for All People, a coalition of residents opposed to Prop F, released a statement Saturday evening. "Voters delivered a rejection of the consolidation of power and political cronyism that Prop F would have meant for our city's governance," the group's co-chairs said. "The results are also an endorsement of the council-manager form of government and the 10-1 system that continues to work towards more diverse representation on city council."
Proposition A, a charter amendment regarding binding arbitration in firefighters' labor contract, stemmed from a citizen-led petition organized by the Austin Firefighters Association, which represents Austin Fire Department employees. AFA President Bob Nicks said binding arbitration will help prevent the city and the union from negotiating impasses, which have occurred in three of the last six bargaining cycles.
Proposition C, a charter amendment regarding the office of police oversight, comes from an ordinance put forward by the Council Member Greg Casar and will move the city's office of police oversight from the control of the city manager to that of council.
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A week after Texas added two congressional seats and California lost one, state officials reported a population decline in 2020 for the first time in the Golden State's history.
California fell by over 182,000 people from January 2020 to January 2021, dropping almost 0.5% to cap out at around 39.5 million people. It is still the nation's most populous state.
For over thirty years, California has seen more people leave than move in from other states, state officials said, with 6.1 million people moving out and 4.9 million coming in last year. Immigration and births kept California growing, but the state saw a shrink in international migration in 2020 due to COVID and the White House's hold on visas.
Of the steady flow of ex-Californians moving to other states, more are moving to Texas than any other state. Many are relocating to Austin, which has been labeled a "little California" by billionaire resident Elon Musk and continues to grow astronomically.
Meanwhile, California cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco saw a population decline.
With immigration and state migration on the decline, the Golden State was also hit with a spike in deaths- 51,000 people died from COVID in 2020, and all but seven of the state's counties saw death rates higher than the three-year average.
Still, the California Department of Finance said a "slightly positive annual growth" can be expected next year as the state recovers from COVID deaths and political repercussions.
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