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City sees major gains after legislative session

Funding for preservation, economic development, on its way

SAN ANTONIO –  Millions of taxpayer dollars will flow into the Alamo City following the passage of several bills during the 4th legislative session that directly impacts San Antonio.

Lawmakers approved a $209 billion spending plan that includes $30 million for the Alamo. Alamo Director Becky Dinnin said $25 million will be used to craft the Alamo master plan. The remaining money will pay for urgent preservation needs at the historic site.

"This state investment tells us that the state is putting its money where its heart is, and that's right here at the Alamo," Dinnin said. "This is just a start to get us going down the road that we need to go. This is a big project."

A few miles away San Antonio District 2 Councilman Alan Warrick was applauding the Legislature's decision to allocate more than $130 million to restore the G.J. Sutton building. The more than 100,000 square-foot facility has sat vacant for nearly two years.

"It's very rare that the state pumps more than $100 million into one building. (This will ) bring new jobs into the community, which is new people that are going to be exposed to the community. New people that are going to go out to restaurants, go out to different venues here. They're going to be able to see everything that's going on on the east side and in the "Decade of District 2."

Several bills that would have had a major impact in San Antonio failed to make it out of the Legislature. Lawmakers could not agree on a statewide policy regulating the rideshare industry, meaning it's unlikely that companies like Uber and Lyft will return to San Antonio anytime soon. Lawmakers also failed to implement a statewide ban on texting while driving, although San Antonio remains a hands-free city.

Officials in the city's planning department applauded the failure of a bill that would have drastically changed annexation policies in Texas. The city has or plans to annex several areas in Bexar County on a limited purpose basis to study the economic feasibility of bringing these areas within city limits permanently.

"The limited purpose annexation process takes about a year for each of the areas that we look at so there is time to do that, and that's certainly what we have received direction to do from the city manager," said Planning Director John Dugan.

Unless Gov. Greg Abbott calls a special session to deal with a specific issue, lawmakers will not reconvene until 2017.