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Austin voters will decide on decriminalizing marijuana in May election

Austin City Council approves putting initiative potentially decriminalize marijuana on the May ballot. (Pexels)

Austin voters will officially be able to vote on decriminalizing marijuana after City Council approved an initiative for the May ballot on Tuesday.

The proposal comes from a petition by Austin organization Ground Game Texas that included 33,000 signatures, 23,000 of which were registered voters. Council then had the choice to enact the ordinance without voter approval; instead, it decided with a 7-3 vote to pass it on to the May ballot after a closed-door executive session, with many members saying they want to hear what Austin voters think about the reform.

If enacted, the ballot measure will ban ticketing or arresting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia unless it is related to a bigger charge. While the Austin Police Department ended most arrests and ticketing for personal marijuana possession in July 2020, the initiative would make it official. The reform also includes a more controversial ban on "no knock" warrants.

The news follows action taken by state and national politicians to ease restrictions on marijuana policies. On Monday, Jan. 10, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at an Edinburg campaign presser that he wasn't interested in imprisoning Texans on minor pot charges.

"Prison and jail is a place for dangerous criminals who may harm others, and small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to stockpile jails with," Abbott said.

If passed, Austin will join 27 states and other major cities, like Atlanta, in decriminalizing weed. Voters will have a chance to decide on the bill at the local election in May, two months after Texas' primary election for governor. Abbott, a favorite for the Republican seat, is predicted to face off against Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke, a staunch supporter for legalizing marijuana, in the state's November election.


With deposition and trial looming, Elon Musk has offered $44B for Twitter, again

Elon Musk has proposed once again to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share.

The news that Musk is offering to carry on with the $44 billion buyout was first reported by Bloomberg. Now, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows Musk made the proposal in a letter to the tech giant on Monday.

The New York Stock Exchange temporarily halted trading in Twitter stock twice Tuesday, first because of a big price move and the second time for a news event, presumably the announcement of Musk's renewed offer.

While the per share offer price on this latest proposal remains the same as the original offer, it’s unclear if Musk has made other term changes or if Twitter would reject it. According to other reports, a deal could be reached this week.

The stock closed at $52.00/share Tuesday, indicating market uncertainty around the $54.20 offer.

After Musk informed Twitter of plans to terminate the original agreement in July, Twitter sued. A trial has been expected in Delaware Chancery Court on Oct. 17.

With the proposition of a buyout on the table again, it revives the question of whether Musk might move Twitter from San Francisco to Central Texas.

He’s done so with some of his other companies. Tesla’s headquarters in southeast Travis County had its grand opening earlier this year and tunneling business The Boring Company moved to Pflugerville. At least two other Musk companies, SpaceX and Neuralink, have a Central Texas presence without being headquartered here.

Technology journalist Nilay Patel this afternoon voiced concerns that owning Twitter and Tesla together could be problematic for Musk, as his Tesla manufacturing facilities in Germany and China are both in countries that have disputes with Twitter over content moderation and censorship.

Telsa shares fell after the Twitter news became public, before rallying to close up, at $249.44.

Austin rents nearly double in a year and are now in the top 5 nationwide

While searching for a place to live, Austin renters will face monthly rates of nearly $3,000, a recent guide from rental marketplace Dwellsy shows.

The median rent in August this year was $2,930, a more than 86% increase since August 2021. That’s $820 more than the nationwide median asking rent in August and puts Austin just below the Bay Area, Boston and New York for large cities with the most expensive asking rent.

“Within this group, Austin, TX stands out for the highest increases in asking rent, which has nearly doubled since this time last year,” the study notes.

Outside of those large cities, however, others are seeing even higher rent spikes. Metro areas that ranked above Austin in one-year increases include those like Kansas City, MO with a 112% change in rent since last August and Tucson, AZ with a 124% change.

The data reflects large apartment communities, single-family homes and 2-6 unit buildings.