Council Committee Urges a Unified Stand on Bills Preempting Paid Sick-Leave Law

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A man representing the Texas Organizing Project holds a sign protesting SB 15 and related bills at the committee meeting.

Shari Biediger / The Rivard Report

A man representing the Texas Organizing Project holds a sign protesting SB 15 and related bills at a meeting of the City Council's Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Members of the City Council’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee will ask the full Council to take a position regarding a collection of bills being considered by state legislators that would preempt San Antonio’s paid sick-leave ordinance.

The committee will present a resolution at Thursday’s Council meeting that will ask the Council to schedule a vote on its position next week.

Led by Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4), the committee on Wednesday heard a briefing from Jeff Coyle, director of government and public affairs, on the status of a number of bills before the 86th Legislature, including Senate Bill 15 and a bevy of related “baby bills” introduced in recent weeks. During the meeting, Saldaña told the committee that the City should take a formal, unified stand on the issues presented in the bill rather than appear to remain neutral or send an unclear message.

To date, the City has not taken an official position on SB 15 or any of the related bills. The resolution that the intergovernmental relations committee is introducing Thursday will ask the Council to put the matter to a vote.

“It will be a very clear position that we oppose any preemption bills, which this would be, because we have actually voted on supporting the implementation of paid sick leave in San Antonio in August,” Saldaña said. “So it’s going to clear up the confusion that right now staff has taken a neutral position on bills that would preempt or undo the San Antonio ordinance.”

As originally filed, SB 15 would have prohibited cities from requiring private companies to offer its workers paid sick leave and other benefits. Both San Antonio and Austin passed such ordinances last year, prompting state legislators to introduce legislation that would supersede those laws before employers must comply.

The bill also caused concern among those who felt it could affect local regulations prohibiting discrimination against workers. That has caused it to become stalled in the Senate, Coyle said, and prompted the introduction of four other bills that have the “components” of SB 15. Three out of four of those bills are on the Senate calendar now.

Each one has the potential to preempt the paid sick-leave ordinance in San Antonio that advocacy groups such as MOVE Texas and the Texas Organizing Project, who were also present at the meeting, have championed.

Coyle told the committee, for instance, that the author’s intent behind SB 2486, an offshoot of SB 15 that prohibits local regulation of scheduling practices of private employers, says that cities have begun to expand their regulatory scope and pass ordinances regulating private employment practices that have typically been handled at the state and federal level. That has created an inconsistent patchwork of regulations that make it difficult for cities to attract new businesses and create new jobs.

Meanwhile, State Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) and State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) are sponsoring a bill (SB 1826) that creates a statewide paid sick-leave mandate. That bill is closely aligned with the ordinance passed in San Antonio in 2018 and set to become a requirement in August.

5 thoughts on “Council Committee Urges a Unified Stand on Bills Preempting Paid Sick-Leave Law

  1. It’s worth pointing out that when the 10th amendment was added to the constitution, the population of the United States was about 4m, basically the population of the city of Los Angeles today.

    It’s high time the state started allowing cities to legislate for their residents. They are becoming the intrusive “big government” that they pretend to despise.

    • Sam; I understand your logic….but it is irrelevant. You are referring to the US Constitution. If there is similar language in the Texas Constitution, which governs here, then your argument will be logical and applicable.

      Until then cities in Texas are subject to the laws passed by the State of Texas.

  2. Watch Manny Peláez flip-flop on this yet issue AGAIN. It’ll be interesting to see if he can break records on the flip-flopping front.

  3. The government should not be in the middle or dictating the agreement between employer and employee. Want paid sick leave? then make yourself more marketable to get a better job.

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