Yesterday's Council B-session was notable primarily because it marked the tentative unveiling of the shiny new 2009-2011 model, with new Council members Ray Lopez and Elisa Chan, and Julian Castro taking his rightful seat in the mayor's chair. Having said all that, the session was essentially dominated by outgoing District 8 Council member Diane Cibrian, who talked nearly as much as the rest of her colleagues combined, and often seemed to be speaking for the Council as if she'd won that little mayoral election we had a few weeks ago. In other words, it felt like old times at the Municipal Plaza Building.
Carlos Contreras, director of Intergovernmental Relations, presented a "preliminary post-session report" on how the City was affected by the legislature's 81st Legislative Session (the reason for the report's tortured title is that it's not yet clear which bills will be signed by Governor Rick Perry, or whether Perry will demand a special session). Contreras reported that seven of the City's eight biggest priorities passed the lege, but conceded that political jockeying over Voter ID had left many bills waiting at the altar.
Among the SA-related legislation that passed: The Military Installation Protection Act, which included an attached amendment from Senators Jeff Wentworth and Leticia Van de Putte that pertained specifically to the creation of a commission to ensure a buffer around Camp Bullis; $4 million in funding for UTSA's Life Science Institute; recognition of Texas A&M-San Antonio as a stand-alone institution. $10 million in additional BRAC funding from the Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant; $20 million for big-city mayor initiatives that will enable SA to apply for more Haven for Hope funding; and a graffiti bill that requires restitution or community service for taggers, but does not include stiff new criminal penalties sought by many San Antonio Council members.
On the downside: $2 billion in highway improvement project bonds, a dangerous-dogs bill, local option funding for transportation, and all proposed meet-and-confer legislation failed to make it out of the lege.
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