News

Public Policy Council meets, focused on police reform, FY21 Appropriations

On Tuesday, the Chamber’s Public Policy Council hosted a meeting focused on police reform and FY21 Appropriations. To kick off the meeting, Councilwoman Ana Sandoval shared her thoughts on police reform at the local level. As a public health professional, Sandoval is interested in addressing the complex social problems in our city that contribute to crime. To do this, she wants to broaden how we think about public safety. Sandoval provided an overview of how the City Council plans to address police reform in San Antonio. Council Committees will be focused on three strategies:

  • Public Safety Committee: Review and finalize “8 Can’t Wait” policies and review our community policing programs, use of force policies and crowd dispersal tactics.
  • Intergovernmental Relations Committee: Develop a robust legislative agenda that addresses public safety unions, qualified immunity, and transparency in officer personnel records.
  • Community Health & Equity Committee: Evaluate best policing practices to help promote race and gender equity in our community and review mental health de-escalation measures.

Sandoval informed attendees of the programs we can expand or implement to help diversify our public safety portfolio. An example presented was Stand Up SA, an evidence-based violence-reduction program in Metro Health that has diffused hundreds of conflicts. Sandoval concluded her remarks by asking business and community leaders to share their opinions and suggestions with her office.

MaryEllen Veliz, Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Lloyd Doggett, provided an overview of police reform at the federal level starting with the Justice in Police Act, which passed the House Thursday night. The bill is a comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, empower local communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. In addition, she provided an update on the infrastructure funding. Veliz mentioned that the INVEST in America Act, a highway funding bill, has merged into a $1.5 trillion Moving Forward Act. The bill includes funding for highways, school infrastructure, safe drinking water, broadband and U.S. Postal Service.

An overview of the FY21 Appropriations Bill was presented by Chris Malen, Legislative Director for Congressman Will Hurd’s Office. Malen mentioned that the appropriations process will begin July 6 with subcommittee markups. Full committee markups will take place July 10 – July 17. He applauded the business community for effectively communicating their priorities every appropriations cycle. Some of Hurd’s priorities for the FY21 appropriations include Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), JBSA Budget for critical military construction and Veterans Affairs maintenance projects and facilities upgrades.

Count on your Chamber to keep you updated. If you have any feedback to share regarding the Moving Forward Act, local police reform efforts or federal police reform legislation, please do not hesitate to reach out.

For more information, contact Vice President of Public Policy, Stephanie Reyes by email at sreyes@sachamber.org or by phone at 210-229-2161.

Want to become a member of the Chamber?