SA City Council members worry over state bills that would add voting restrictions, undercut city operations

City staff briefed council members Thursday on the current state legislative session

SAN ANTONIO – A Thursday briefing on the state legislative session left at least some San Antonio City Council members fretting about what’s happening in Austin.

Assistant City Manager Jeff Coyle walked council members through some of the issues and bills that the city’s legislative team is dealing with during the legislative session. Voter issues and various bills that could undercut the city’s powers appeared to worry council members.

“Thank you, Jeff, for delivering all this bad news,” District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran said jokingly.

The state Senate passed Senate Bill 7, a Republican priority, early on Thursday morning. The bill would add various restrictions to elections rules, like limiting extended early voting hours and prohibiting the proactive mailing of vote-by-mail ballot applications.

“It just seems like it’s really out to get the working class,” District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval said about the bill.

Coyle also updated the council on a series of bills he said could negatively affect the city government with proposals ranging from banning cities from hiring lobbyists to restricting their ability to lower their own police department budgets.

“It’s almost like the state is trying to make us powerless to do the things that the people in our communities ask us to do or expect us to do,” said District 9 Councilman John Courage.

District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry, though, says he hears complaints about other levels of government, too, and noted that elected officials can be voted out if they don’t represent their constituents well.

“We got to remember that it is a representative government,” Perry said.

That argument seemed to draw skepticism from Viagran who retorted that “our government remains a representative government when our government doesn’t try to suppress the vote.”

More on KSAT:

Texas Senate advances bill limiting how and when voters can cast ballots, receive mail-in voting applications

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.