Austin’s Top News – April 16, 2021

Austin's Top News from News Radio KLBJ

Constitutional carry without a license

The Texas House gives preliminary approval for constitutional carry handgun legislation allowing the carrying of a handgun in public places without a permit. Democrats argued that it would be dangerous for untrained people to be carrying a gun. State Rep. Matt Schaefer’s bill would allow anyone over 21 eligible to purchase a gun to carry it in public without a license. 

“This bill should be called common sense because this bill is about common law abiding citizens being able to carry commonly owned handguns,” says Schaefer.

Those opposed say, the current licensing process further weeded out those who shouldn’t be allowed to carry.

“We shouldn’t be up here changing the criteria for eligibility to carry at the same time,” says State Rep. John Turner.

The house still needs to pass the bill on third reading.

Casino gambing in Texas

The Las Vegas Sands Corporation has spent $5 million just on lobbyists to get casino gambling legalized in Texas. They’re pushing a bill that would allow for four destination casinos in the state’s biggest cities. Rice University Political Scientist Mark Jones says in July it appeared the state faced a real budget crisis.

“In which the siren’s call of casino money might have been more convincing. Right now, the budget doesn’t look that bad and a whole trough of federal money is going to be coming in soon,” says Jones.

And what doesn’t help the cause is Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and other conservative republicans are against casino gaming.

SB 29

The Texas high school and middle school students would continue to participate in UIL Sports based on their biological gender. Under legislation passed by the Texas, Senate Senator and orthopedic Doctor Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, who voted for SB 29 says it’s important that respective sexes play in their respective sports. 

“Do we want transgender youth, for instance, playing their biologic sex as male and playing in female sports and vice versa. So how do you balance that?”says Schwerner

Schwertner says there is a tilting of the playing field when one sex competes against in another sexes sport.

Herd immunity 

The Austin Travis County Health Authority says herd immunity is still a ways away. Dr. Mark Escott explains their count of full and partial vaccinations and estimated infection recovery count means no more than 54% of the local population has some level of immunity. But he adds, that’s the best case scenario. 

“This pie chart is showing an assumption that there is zero overlap between people who had COVID and people who have been vaccinated from covid, which is obviously not the case. So this is going to overestimate the protection,” says Escott.

He says, even if their counts are correct, almost 600,000 residents are still susceptible to COVID-19. 

Housing stock 

The Austin Round Rock metro median home price reaches a new high of $425,000 in March. Texas A&M Real Estate Economist Dr. Jim Gaines says high demand paired with the incredibly low housing stock of 0.4 months, really is pushing the market up. 

“There just isn’t enough inventory of houses. And it’s also causing people to even refrain more from trying to sell their existing house because they can’t go find another house that they’d like to have,” says Gaines.

The Austin board of realtors says in March alone, buyers spent almost $2 billion on area homes. 

This news and more on News Radio KLBJ:


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