Chamber launches Legislative Advisory Committee

The Chamber’s newly created Legislative Advisory Committee (LAC) held their first meeting of the year this week, and two local issues have already risen to top priority for the new group. Kathy Garcia, VP of Government Relations, Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy for CPS Energy, was appointed by the Chamber’s 2018 Chairman of the Board Shaun Kennedy to chair the 21-member committee.


The new committee is a subcommittee of the Public Policy Council and is comprised of government relations business leaders who are intimately familiar with the intersection between business and government.  Two committee members were appointed late Fall by each of the Chamber’s 2017 council and committee chairs.  The purpose of creating the LAC was to offer guidance and strategic direction to the Chamber in an effort to achieve policy goals and objectives. The committee will identify issues of major concern to the business community, conduct research and analysis, and recommend positions to the Public Policy Council (PPC) up to the Board of Directors. The Chamber believes creating the LAC will provide a more comprehensive approach to developing our state and federal legislative agendas and improve communication among Chamber committees. Committee members are responsible for providing the PPC with background information on all legislation related to local, state, and federal issues that affect the San Antonio business community. They will serve as liaisons between the LAC and their respective councils and committees.


The first meeting had a hefty agenda, with an in-depth discussion on the City’s Labor Peace Agreement, Fire Fighter Union Petition drive, State Legislative Priorities, and SA to DC takeaways.


The committee discussed the need for continued efforts in opposing the LPA. While the City Council last week directed city staff to issue an addendum to the current master airport concessionaire Request for Proposal (RFP), it was clear that we are not yet out of the woods. In fact, several of the City Councilmembers made comments about how they would like to further explore the impacts of an LPA. The committee discussed a strategy to ensure a Labor Peace Agreement (LPA) stays out of future RFPs.


The LAC also discussed the repercussions of having the three Fire Fighter Union petitions on the November ballot. One petition aims to cap the City Manager’s salary to 10 times that of the lowest-paid city employee and cap tenure to eight years. Another would force the City and Fire Union to negotiate contracts through binding arbitration, should there be an impasse. The third petition would change requirements for citizen-led referendums and give voters the opportunity to challenge city ordinances, even public utility rate increases and taxes. The committee committed to drafting a position statement in opposition to the three petitions that will be presented to the Public Policy Council, Executive Committee, and Board of Directors in April.


Committee members also had a robust and informative discussion regarding the interim session and upcoming 86th Texas Legislature. Committee members discussed their state legislative priorities, which included school finance reform, property taxes, Hotel and Occupancy Tax (HOT), transportation funding and local control. The committee will be actively monitoring committee hearings during the interim and reporting back important takeaways from these hearings.


Finally, committee members provided feedback on the 2018 SA to DC Trip and highlighted the major takeaways and actions items from the trip. The committee agreed to draft an official SA to DC report with key takeaways and action items that will be presented to the Board of Directors.

A big thank you to all our Legislative Advisory Committee members for their time and commitment.  A complete list of the committee members can be found below:


Committee First Name Last Name Company
Aerospace Tyler Schroeder The Boeing Company
Aerospace Dan Gonzales Standard Aero
Cybersecurity Rich Valdez IPSecure
Education/Workforce Deb Caldwell NEISD
Education/Workforce Stephanie Garcia Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc.
Military Affairs Council Mark Frye Umyuaq Technology, LLC, “U-Tech”
Military Affairs Council Ruben Villarreal Military Agriculture Project
Public Policy Council Sally Basurto COSA
Public Policy Council TJ Mayes Bexar County
Water Committee Brian Mast San Antonio River Authority
Water Committee Donovan Burton SAWS
Energy Committee Tim Trevino AACOG
Energy Committee Chris Ashcraft STEER
Transportation Committee Vic Boyer SAMCo
Transportation Committee Jonathan Gurwitz KGBTexas
Healthcare & Biosciences Christina Yanez Methodist Health Ministries
Healthcare & Biosciences Mary Nava Bexar County Medical Society
Economic Development Council Ashley Harris Visit San Antonio
Economic Development Council Sandi Wolff Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP


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