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Reporter’s Notebook: Carrying on

Monday, November 19, 2018 by Austin Monitor

A bump in the road… As long expected, the state’s Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals voided the city’s paid sick leave ordinance on Friday. The 24-page opinion by the three-judge panel found that the ordinance – which was passed in February but placed under injunction prior to its Oct. 1 efficacy date – is unconstitutional because it conflicts with the state’s minimum wage law. City representatives said they are reviewing their legal options related to the ordinance. Council Member Greg Casar, who spearheaded the ordinance, tweeted Friday that the recent electoral shake-up of much of the state’s judgeships could work in the city’s favor going forward. “The majority of these judges just lost their elections, so we anticipated they may rush out anti-worker rulings before January,” he wrote. “I’m confident the next court in this ongoing process will rule with the law and common sense: guaranteeing paid sick days is legal & good for Texans.”

Harper-Madison’s residency challenged… Attorney Matt Tynan has filed an official challenge to the eligibility of District 1 runoff candidate Natasha Harper-Madison. Tynan pointed out in his challenge, which was filed with City Clerk Jannette Goodall on Friday, that on numerous occasions Harper-Madison used an address in District 6 on her campaign finance forms. The Austin American-Statesman pointed out the problem in September, including the fact that she claims a homestead exemption at the home in District 6, where her husband and children reside. Harper-Madison did make corrections on a number of the forms and her campaign says the use of that address was simply an error that was repeated. Tynan told the Austin Monitor that he was hired to investigate Harper-Madison’s residency and file a challenge if appropriate. He said he was not employed by any of the candidates or their campaigns and declined to name his client. The Monitor learned that a member of the East Austin community also filed a residency challenge on Nov. 2. Lauren Hartnett, Harper-Madison’s campaign manager, said Sunday that the campaign had received a notice from the Texas Ethics Commission about a complaint filed by a prospective landlord related to the candidate’s residency. However, she said they had never received a formal notice about the complaint, making her wonder if it was going forward. “We have so much documentation that shows she was well within the six months,” living in District 1, Hartnett said. On Tuesday, Council will canvass the election results and order the runoff for December 11.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Chad Swiatecki and Jo Clifton. 

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