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Mayor Ron Nirenberg appointed five City Council members to an ad hoc committee charged with reviewing “options” for revising the recently adopted paid sick leave ordinance, according to a memo sent by his office Wednesday.
Though the State Legislature or the courts could override the local rules that Council approved in August in lieu of a public vote, Nirenberg stated, “this committee will have already started a process of bringing stakeholders together to ensure the ordinance appropriately considers all perspectives and minimizes adverse impacts.”
The ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019 and cannot be modified until February, however the requirements of businesses are not effective until August. The legislative session starts on Jan. 8.
The committee is comprised of Council members Rebecca Viagran (D3), Ana Sandoval (D7), and Rey Saldaña (D4), who serve as chairs of the Economic Development, Community Health and Equity, and Intergovernmental Relations committees respectively; Shirley Gonzales (D5), a small business owner; and Manny Pelaez (D8), a labor attorney, who will chair the committee.
A coalition of paid sick leave advocacy groups submitted more than 140,000 petition signatures for a proposed ordinance in late May. Rather than putting the issue on the municipal ballot, City Council opted to approve the measure as is. The new ordinance, Nirenberg has said, could have benefitted from a process that included business owners and other stakeholders.
Last week, the Third Court of Appeals declared Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance unconstitutional and issued a temporary injunction. State lawmakers, including State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) and State Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), have vowed to file statewide legislation that, if approved, would supersede the local ordinance.
Nirenberg has said he prefers statewide regulation when it comes to paid sick leave.
“The ad hoc committee is charged with creating a Paid Sick Leave Commission and establishing a process that incorporates the input of all stakeholders to arrive at final recommendations for Council,” Nirenberg stated in the memo sent to Council colleagues and the City management team. “The process should explicitly target business input, and seek data and analysis regarding the impact of the ordinance.”