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City of Austin Sets Lobbying Goals for Upcoming Legislative Session

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During a city council meeting last month, the City of Austin set out its
lobbying objectives for the upcoming legislative session. The full document, which can be found on the City of Austin’s website, lists issues in categories such as tax reform, health, infrastructure, transparent government, public safety, and voting.

Some of the notable goals listed under tax reform are support for “local
options for revenue expansion and diversification,” and opposition towards “legislation that restricts the ability of the City to issue debt through either General Obligation or Certificates of Obligation bonds.”

Bonds have become a major part of this year’s general election, with over $12 billion of bonds on ballots across the state this year.

On the issue of health, the city wants “funding for public health care
programs, including Women’s Preventative Health and Family Planning Services.”

Regarding infrastructure, the city wants to ensure “the continuation of a stand-alone State entity to regulate the Plumbers and plumbing installations of Texas.”

The issue of plumbing regulation had become an issue in the state after
lawmakers chose not to extend the life of the Texas State Board of Plumbing
Examiners during last year’s legislative session. As a result, the board was set to dissolve by the start of September of this year. Gov. Greg Abbott chose to extend the board through 2021 via executive order.

Listed under the label “Transparent and Efficient Government” is the city’s
declaration of opposition towards “legislation that limits or prohibits the city’s current ability to communicate or advocate with legislators.” This would allow the city to continue its ability to lobby into the future.

There are also several highlights regarding the issue of public safety. The first point in that section of the document is “Support continued funding and support of Police, Fire, and EMS operations.” The document also lists support for various police reforms, such as allowing “medical and mental health professionals to safely perform related duties currently restricted to law enforcement officers,” reducing “the improper or excessive use of force by police,” and support for “implicit-bias and de-escalation training.”

Also, under the issue of public safety is support for some forms of gun control, such as limiting “access to firearms by domestic abusers” and preventing “access to bump stocks.”

Lastly, on the issue of voting, the city advocates for “online voter registration,” repealing “identification requirements to access the ballot,” support for “restoring voting rights and the right to stand as a candidate for formerly incarcerated individuals,” and allowing “voting-by-mail for all eligible voters.”

The next general session of the Texas Legislature begins in January, 2021.

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