Groups against state Senate bill designed to limit local government power on private employers

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SAN ANTONIO – Groups in San Antonio are speaking out against a bill making its way through the state Capitol that’s designed to limit the power of local governments.

State Senate Bill 15 would prohibit local regulations on private employers dealing with employment leave, benefits and other terms of employment. It stems from ordinances passed by the cities of Austin and San Antonio that require paid sick leave. 

The bill is set to head to the full state Senate next week.

Paul Garza, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 60, said the language in the bill is written so vaguely that it could impact the way his union negotiates with contractors over water breaks and wages.

“I don’t (to) want speak just for union people. I want to speak for the working family,” he said. “It’s going to affect our communities, families, workers who work every day. They're trying to tear down piece by piece what a community is trying to make. It hurts the community when you have an entity from the state that wants to delegate.”

Garza’s union represents 24 counties.

During a visit to San Antonio on Feb. 15, Gov. Greg Abbott said he’s certain the bill will pass.

“Paid sick leave is a great business strategy. It’s a tool businesses can use to hire and attract employees,” he said. “Businesses should be free to use it, but it should be used as a strategic mechanism by businesses at their own discretion.”

Members of the LGBTQ community also worry about the impact the bill could have on the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

Robert Salcedo, with The Pride Center, said the bill could have broad implications on how it could affect minorities in the future.

“Based on how the bill is written, it could open it up to so many other things, and that’s what we have to be careful about,” he said.

The San Antonio city attorney said the bill should not have an impact on the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

The bill would have an impact on the city’s sick leave ordinance passed in 2018. The city is taking a neutral stance on the bill, but some city leaders are asking the City Council to reconsider taking a stance because it could limit city power in the future.

About the Author:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.