On Tuesday, your Chamber’s Legislative Advisory Committee and Public Policy Council held a joint meeting to learn about key policy issues impacting the San Antonio business community at the local, state, and federal levels. The Legislative Advisory Committee is chaired by Jaymie Mangelsdorf, Senior Executive Director of Government Relations at UT Health San Antonio. Tyler Lowe, Manager of Government and Community Relations for Vulcan Materials, chairs the Chamber’s Public Policy Council.
To kick off the meeting, public policy council members heard from Justin Renteria, Policy Analyst for District 1 Councilmember Roberto Trevino. Renteria provided an overview of the Councilman’s Council Consideration Request (CCR) to create a Comprehensive Art WORKS Program in San Antonio. Renteria highlighted that the goal is to provide opportunities for art to be included in non-traditional areas and create opportunities for local artist. The CCR requests that the City increase its investment in public art for any capital projects they fund partially or wholly, create a design enhancement program, and look for ways to include art in private development.
Senator Leticia Van de Putte provided the State Legislative Update. Senator Van de Putte informed attendees that Texas has two primary economic drivers: sales tax revenues from the motor fuel tax and severance taxes. She mentioned that retail fuel prices have taken a hit. The Texas budget is written at $53 for a barrel of West Texas Oil to break even, and on Tuesday morning, the barrel was at $42. Senator Van de Putte also touched on ideas the House and Senate are looking at to conduct interim committee hearings and business during the 87th Legislative Session.
Ben Thomas, Legislative Director for the Office of Congressman Joaquin Castro, provided the federal legislative update. Thomas mentioned that the House will vote on a USPS bill to provide $25 billion for the post office and require postal service to revert to service standards and operations in place at the beginning of the year. It is very likely the USPS bill could be included in a Coronavirus Relief Package. Thomas shared that he is doubtful Congress will strike a deal on a fifth coronavirus relief package in the coming weeks, since both parties are far apart on the principles of the bill. In addition to another coronavirus relief package, we are approaching the end of the fiscal year, set to expire at the end of September. Thomas believes that Congress will likely pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through the November Election.
An update on the 2020 State Elections was provided by Denise Rose, Partner at Jackson Walker LLP. Rose reminded everyone that the last day to register to vote is October 5th and Early Voting begins October 13. There are sixteen Senate seats up for election this year with only one seat, Texas Senate District 19, considered to be a toss-up. The 87th Texas Legislature will have 14 new House members – 10 seats are open, and four incumbents lost in the primary. In total 15-25 seats are up for grabs since they are targeted by both parties to flip this November.
If you are interested in joining the Chamber’s Public Policy Council please contact Vice President of Public Policy Stephanie Reyes by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 210-229-2162.