Mose Buchele/KUT

In the Land of the Oil Bust, the Repo Business Booms

Oil closed at its lowest price in more than six years yesterday and, while it’s risen slightly since then, some project the price to drop even further. In some parts of Texas that's bad news for almost everyone. The economic ripple effect of low prices has led to layoffs and slammed the brakes on local economies. But there’s one business that’s going through a boom in the oil patch right now: the repo man.
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Dell Inc. is facing a lawsuit. It was filed in Delaware on Wednesday.

The lawsuit accuses founder and CEO Michael Dell and other company directors of breaching their fiduciary duties by failing to maximize shareholder value and selling the company at the lowest price at the expense of shareholders.

4:30 p.m. ET — Latest from the National Weather Service:

"A major winter storm is expected to impact the Northeast and New England Friday into Saturday. As much as one to two feet of snow is forecast from the New York City metro area to Maine, with localized heavier amounts possible. This, in addition to wind gusts as high as 60-75 mph will create significant impacts to transportation and power. Coastal flooding is also possible from Boston northward."

KUT News

A week from today the Austin City Council will consider whether to relinquish most of its governing power over Austin Energy and create an independent board to oversee the utility.

In anticipation of the council’s actions, State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, filed legislation Wednesday that would allow Austin council members to create the board without a public referendum. Such a change could mean changes for customers.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Texas lawmakers have rallied around the idea of making elementary schools safer. There have been calls to allow anyone with a concealed handgun license to bring guns onto public school campuses. Or for teachers to get concealed carry licenses.

The latest idea comes from a bill filed by State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas). He wanted to know what schools and professional school security organizations wanted.

Tracy Olson/Flickr

A fresh reading of the Austin economy suggests people are spending more money than they were a year ago. 

The state comptroller says sales tax receipts grew by 6.5 percent in January from the same month a year earlier. That was slightly more than the statewide growth of 6.1 percent.

JD Hancock/Flickr

There’s an ongoing dispute in and around Pflugerville about how much fire and emergency services protection the area wants, and how much it’s willing to pay. The firefighters local wants to meet a number of national standards for service levels.

“We’re just trying to meet those standards and possibly exceed them,” said firefighters association spokesman Trevor Stokes. “We’re not doing that currently.”

Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

In the latest report on state sales tax revenues, some towns are reporting huge increases in sales tax collections.

Asherton, for example, saw its January sales tax grow by 191 percent. Asherton is near the Eagle Ford Shale, an area being transformed by the oil and gas drilling boom.

As Mose Buchele reports for StateImpact Texas, a new bipartisan group of state lawmakers hoping to guide that transformation hosted its first meeting today at the Capitol.

KUT News

Today was college football’s nationwide signing day. All 11 expected Longhorn recruits signed letters of intent to play at UT, Coach Mack Brown said at an afternoon news conference. Those players, along with four who enrolled midyear, make up this year’s recruiting class of 15 new players.

Rune Mathisen, Texas Tribune

Texas high school students would have to take just five standardized tests to graduate instead of 15, under a bill filed today in the Texas House. State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock,  R-Killeen, says House Bill 5 would give students more flexibility to pursue vocational careers.

“Hoping that stimulates kids to find the areas that they find interesting and challenging in life, and that they begin to choose areas they want to go into, not necessarily areas the state’s trying to press them into,” Aycock said.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

There’s no City Council meeting this week: Instead, City Hall watchers’ eyes were on Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s 2013 State of the City address, delivered at a Real Estate Council of Austin luncheon on Tuesday.

Owing in part to Austin’s good fortunes, the mayor’s speech is traditionally a rosy affair, full of economic achievements. And that was the case this time:  “Austin, Texas is today, I think without question, one of the most widely admired and most emulated cities in America,” said Leffingwell in one of the speech’s many paeans to the city.