Top Local Business Stories of the Week [Austin American-Statesman]
(Austin American-Statesman (TX) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 09--BAG THE BAG BAN
Lawmaker stands by plan to kill Austin's bag ban: A first-time state lawmaker who lives some 260 miles outside Austin said last week that he's getting a positive response to his legislation to bag Austin's plastic bag ban.
"Nine out of 10 people I've talked to in the city of Austin can't stand it," said Rep. Drew Springer, a Republican from the tiny town of Muenster, between Wichita Falls and Denton. "They think the council is nuts."
Springer's "Shopping Bag Freedom Act," which bars Texas cities from prohibiting businesses from giving customers single-use plastic or paper bags, was filed just days after Austin's ban went into effect. Springer said the ban risks people's health, doesn't protect the environment, ships jobs to China and penalizes the poor.
The Legislature has a history of second-guessing the city of Austin's policies and it doesn't always go over well.
Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez said people in Austin "are doing just fine deciding what's best for our community. If his concerns are shared by the people he represents up in Northwest Texas, I'd suggest he bracket his bill to apply (just) to the constituents he represents."
Austin is not alone in banning plastic bags. Brownsville, South Padre Island and Fort Stockton also have their own local rules.
Springer disagrees that a bag ban is a local issue.
"They're not talking about a street sign and whether we should put a stop sign on this corner," he said. "They are talking about affecting commerce that affects the entire state."
Chipmaker exiting North Austin campus, moving workers to Oak Hill location: Freescale Semiconductor Ltd. intends to vacate its campus in Northwest Austin this year and relocate the workers there to its Oak Hill headquarters 22 miles away.
The chipmaker, which employs about 5,000 workers in Austin, did not say how many employees will be affected by the move. But the company is believed to employ several hundred people at the campus at 7700 West Parmer Lane, which was built between 1999-2001.
Freescale, which told employees about the plan late last year, says the move will help it cut real estate costs while enabling closer collaboration among workers.
The company is renovating its office space in Oak Hill to make it a more open working environment, said spokesman Robert Hatley. The move is expected to be completed by late this year.
The consolidation move was announced shortly after new CEO Gregg Lowe disclosed his plan to reorganize and streamline the company's operations. Freescale employs about 18,000 people worldwide.
Freescale's workers at the Parmer campus include a range of engineers, software developers, marketing and sales and other support workers.
The Parmer campus was created in the late 1990s during an expansion push by Freescale's predecessor, Motorola Semiconductor Sector. At that time, Motorola employed about 11,000 people in the Austin area and was looking for room to grow. The company chose the Parmer Lane site after city officials discouraged a proposed to the Circle C development on RM 1826 in southwest Austin.
But Freescale now employs less than half as many people as Motorola did at its peak and it has plenty of unused space at the Oak Hill headquarters at 6501 W. William Cannon Drive.
The company's largest Austin-area campus the Oak Hill site, where the corporate headquarters, substantial engineering operations and one of its two chip factories are located. The company runs a second factory and has offices at its East Austin campus at 3501 Ed Bluestein Blvd. Part of that campus was sold last year to JLM Financial Investments.
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