A man representing the Texas Organizing Project holds a sign protesting SB 15 and related bills at the committee meeting.
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. Credit: Shari Biediger / The San Antonio Report

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.

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the business beat reporter at the San Antonio Report.