Politicians, reporters, policy wonks, academics, advocates, and avid news consumers will pack the University of Texas at Austin campus during the Texas Tribune Festival this weekend, Sept. 22-24.

“We’re anticipating more than 4,000 attendees and over 250 speakers at this year’s Texas Tribune Festival – an extraordinary and likely record-breaking turnout,” stated Evan Smith, Texas Tribune CEO and co-founder, in an email. “The fest is already the best weekend of the year for us, and it just keeps getting better every year.”

More than 60 sessions will focus on climate change, education finance, annexation, President Trump, modern media, immigration, and more. Click here to view the full calendar. Some events are sold out, but passes from $50-$300 are available here.

Some of the headliners of this year’s festival, which will “explore the state’s – and nation’s – most pressing issues,” include U.S. Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas),  John Cornyn (R-Texas), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, and more, according to its schedule.

The San Antonio City Council delegation includes Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4). Nirenberg will also participate in a live recording of TribCast Friday night with Franken, Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey, and others. They’ll talk about the legislative session and what anti-immigrant policies mean for Texas and the nation at 5 p.m.

The opening session will feature Franken and Smith on stage as they discuss his new book Al Franken: Giant of the Senate.

On Saturday morning, Nirenberg will join current and former mayors from Austin, Houston, and South Bend, Ind. on a panel about “How Cities are Tackling Climate Change.”

One of his first actions after winning the June runoff election was to sign the City on to a letter supporting the Paris Climate Accord. Soon after, funding emerged for a local Climate Action Plan.

“I am looking forward to a productive exchange on climate change. In addition to the global importance, climate change is a local economic issue. We have to be prepared to cope with the challenges that climate change and extreme conditions will present to infrastructure, water use, flooding and health. Sharing ideas is beneficial to our efforts to ensure resilience,” Nirenberg said in a statement. “The effects of Hurricane Harvey will be felt for decades and the continued storms pummeling the coast are a wake-up call for all cities. It’s a reminder that we can’t wait for Washington to fix things and it serves as a strong warning that we must be proactive about instituting resilient policies as we anticipate stronger and more frequent storms.”

Kiah Collier, the Tribune’s environment and energy reporter who contributed to the award-winning investigative series Hell and High Water, will moderate the discussion.

Saldaña will join the mayors of El Paso, Fort Worth, and State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) in a discussion about “Big-City Economics” Saturday afternoon.

San Antonio passed its first budget using an “equity lens” to distribute resources and funding as a first step toward rectifying decades of underinvestment in certain areas of the city. Saldaña, whose Southside district includes some of the poorest neighborhoods in San Antonio, praised his colleagues for taking on the charge to flip the script for low-income families.

The conversation between State Sens. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) and José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) will surely be interesting as the panel “The Limits of Annexation” may be one of the first time they’ve been in the same room since they went toe to toe on recent annexation legislation.

Menéndez filibustered an earlier version of an annexation bill that was eventually modified and approved. Campbell has been a loud advocate for regulation that limits cities’ ability to annex and authored the approved bill.

“Members, this is a great deal,” Campbell said as the bill was sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature. “… It is a huge victory for property rights of Texans.”

They’ll be joined by State Reps. Paul Workman (R-Austin) and Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio). Rivard Report Director Robert Rivard will moderate the discussion.

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. She was the San Antonio Report's...