City Council efforts to require water breaks for construction workers could be blocked by Texas preemptive bill

Texas preemption bill putting in question local governments ability to create new ordinances

SAN ANTONIO – Even just a few minutes outside in this heat can have you reaching for a cold drink of water.

The city of San Antonio is looking at requiring companies to give construction workers time for water breaks.

“My colleague, former councilwoman, Ana Sandoval doctored a consideration request to explore a potential ordinance to ensure that San Antonio construction workers have an opportunity to stop and have a drink of water and avoid facing death,” said Terri Castillo, councilwoman for District 5.

Castillo says Texas leads the country with the highest number of heat-related deaths but a bill waiting for Governor Greg Abbott’s signature, would restrict cities from creating local rules, that state law already covers. It’s called a preemption bill.

“Whether you’re talking about rest breaks or water breaks for construction workers, whether you’re talking about payday lending ordinances and some other things that cities and counties have taken it upon themselves to regulate across Texas,” said Scott Braddock, Editor,

Braddock says the bill is vague and exactly how the legislation would affect local policy, is unclear.

Castillo says the city attorney has noted that there are so many questions about the bill, she says that they have many ordinances that have already passed so they are looking to understand what the new bill mean for those.

“It’s going to frustrate average people. The folks who are watching KSAT that when they can’t go talk to their city councilman or woman, their mayor, the county commissioner, to get something addressed because that power was taken away from them by the state of Texas,” said Braddock.

In the coming weeks, the City Council will meet to discuss the water break ordinance and hope to get a better idea of how the preemption bill will impact local rules.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.