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The Darsch Report: Jan. 14 – 20

San Antonio Housing Projects

On Wednesday, Jan 16th, San Antonio officials declared that the first applications for the city’s revamped Center City Housing Incentive Policy (CCHIP) are being received and reviewed. Four new housing developments, encompassing 515 units, will set aside 238 of the units for families making less than 60 percent of the area’s median income.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a written statement that the mix meets “the level of affordability that we need in San Antonio.” This comes after Nirenberg paused CCHIP so that the city could reevaluate its rules in order to combat fears of displacement,  rising rent and the incentives being used for luxury developments.

The new applicants include:

  • Museum Reach Lofts, a 95-unit, $17.5 million project at the corner of West Jones Avenue and North St. Mary’s Street. It’s one of two projects submitted by Alamo Community Group, a San Antonio based non-profit housing developer.
  • Cattleman Square Lofts, Alamo Community Group’s other submitted project, which will add 160 units west of downtown at 811 W. Houston St.
  • Augusta Apartments, a 260-unit development by Stillwater Capital at 819 Augusta St., near Central Catholic High School.
  • The Villas at Museum Reach, a $3.5 million townhouse project by MGS Museum Reach LLC on Dallas Street across from the Museum Reach Lofts.

Travis County v. the City of Austin

Earlier this week, the Travis County District Court ruled that the city of Austin violated Texas law when it refused to allow duly-licensed residents to lawfully carry firearms in City Hall. As punishment the city is to pay a fine for each day they prevented investigators from lawfully carrying concealed weapons in Austin City Hall, resulting in a total of $9,000 to the state of Texas.

In response, Attorney General Ken Paxton stated, “The district court’s ruling preserves and protects the Second Amendment rights of Texans and sends a strong message to the city of Austin that they are bound by the same laws as all other Texans. The city of Austin cannot violate the open carry law or any other law the Texas Legislature has enacted simply because they disagree with it. If the city of Austin appeals the district court’s decision, my office will continue to strongly defend the right of law-abiding Texans to keep and bear arms in accordance with our handgun laws.”

The degree to which Ken Paxton is willing to go to to protect every Texan’s Second Amendment rights is commendable. This is a clear victory for the gun owners of Austin.

Trump-Pelosi Showdown

As of Sunday, January 20th, the United States federal government will have gone through 29 days of a partial government shutdown, the longest in our nation’s history. The shutdown’s current cost exceeds an estimated $4.8 billion and is forcing about 800,000 federal workers to take leave of absence or work without pay.

On Saturday, Jan. 19th, Trump described a deal that he hopes will reopen the government. In exchange for $5.7 billion for a border barrier, Trump will grant a 3-year extension of protections for 700,000 DACA recipients and extend protections for 300,000 recipients of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. The deal would also allocate $800 million in funding for drug detection technology, 2,750 new border agents and law enforcement professionals, and 75 new immigration judges to reduce an immense backlog of asylum requests.

In the speech, Trump said “Our immigration system should be a source of pride, not a source of shame as it is all over the world,” and that “If we are successful in this effort, we will have the best chance in a long time at real, bipartisan immigration reform, and it won’t stop here, it will keep going until we do it all”.

However, both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have already denounced the deal, calling the provisions a “non-starter”.

This shutdown has gone on long enough. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer need to start talking with Trump about a compromise instead of devolving into partisan bickering while thousands of families are left worrying if they can pay their bills.

US Economy

It was a good week for US stocks, with multiple gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones increased to 24,706.35 on Friday, increasing by +710.40 points, or +2.96 percent over its Jan 4th close of 23,995.95. The S&P 500 increased by +74.45 points or +2.87 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq had an increase on Friday by +2.66 percent.

This comes on the news of a potential end to the US-China trade war. The deal would have China ramping up imports for the United States over the next 6 years for a combined value of goods of more than $1 trillion and China closing their $323 billion surplus with the US to zero. The deal has met with skepticism from U.S. negotiators but if implemented would theoretically turn the US into an exporter rather than an importer nation, solving our $55.5 billion trade deficit.

Though the year is young, so far in 2019 the economy is looking great. If the Trump administration does actually strike a favorable deal with Beijing that can end the trade war and reduce the trade deficit with China, then we can have high hopes for the US economy in 2019.

Failed Brexit Vote

On Tuesday, Jan 15th, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected by historic margins with MPs voting to reject the deal 432 votes to 202 as well as barely surviving a no-confidence vote by 325 votes to 306. The deal in question received bipartisan rejection after criticism that it would leave the UK as a vassal state of the EU, having to obey EU laws and regulations while having absolutely no say in EU matters.

Now the British government has until March 29 to extend the deadline for when the UK leaves the EU under World Trade Organization (WTO) laws, renegotiate a new deal or hold a second referendum. It appears that a WTO Brexit is the most likely option, as the conservative government remains highly opposed to any consideration of a second referendum and MPs in the House of Commons cannot seem to come to an ideal compromise.

The UK government at this point needs to start preparing for a WTO Brexit in hopes to minimize any potential damage it may have. A WTO Brexit may also be their best bet for a better economy and country, granting them full control over their own sovereignty and the ability to negotiate better trade deals without the restrictive laws and tariffs that have left the EU stagnant for years.

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