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San Marcos City Council discusses Lobbying Ordinance

Council considers only requiring developers to register as lobbyists

Sierra Martin | Managing Editor

On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, the San Marcos City Council held a Work Session to discuss the Lobbying Ordinance, which has been in the drafting process since 2017. The ordinance would require the registration of lobbyists and periodic reporting of contacts made by lobbyists with elected City officials, City Board and Commission members and City Employees.

Mayor Jane Hughson suggested that the Lobbying Ordinance should only require developers making rezoning requests to register as lobbyists. 

“What I’m going to suggest is that we pare this down. And we limit the scope to just developers, no nonprofit entities, no social service agencies, just those who will or may profit, literally, by decisions this council makes,” said Hughson. 

Councilmember Maxfield Baker said that he disagrees with Hughson’s idea and that they “might as well throw the whole thing out if your plan is to only target developers.”

“I just don’t see the point of effectively passing something that only applies to a finite number of situations, when we know that there are likely more cases to be worried about as exemplified by the San Marcos Police Officers Association being included in the first place,” said Baker. “I would not be supporting that.”

Councilmembers Shane Scott and Saul Gonzales were concerned about how placing a lobbying registration requirement on people asking to rezone property may affect citizens and not just developers. The solution councilmembers settled on was to define it by the size of the rezoning request, although the specific number wasn’t determined in the workshop. 

Councilmembers Mark Gleason, Alyssa Garza and Jude Prather, supported the suggested limitations to the lobbying ordinance but wanted to speak to community members for feedback. 

“The two biggest things I hear from constituents is yes, they are worried about possible undue influence from large developers, ones with large amounts of money that are making a large impact in the community,” said Gleason. “But also, I hear from the groups and organizations that are extremely concerned that they’re going to get caught up in this. And it’s going to cause an undue burden and barriers between them communicating with their elected officials. So I think there could be possibly something we could work out here.”

Jonathan Lollar, chair of the San Marcos Ethics Review Commission, said that he would work to put together a summary of the Lobbying Ordinance to share with the community. He also spoke about how he feels the ordinance would benefit the city. 

“There was a recent firing of city employee that came at the hands of, you know, insider information and things like that…” said Lollar. “So those are all reasons why this, you know, continues to be something that’s necessary and continues to be something that the City Council has been asking us to work on since around 2017.”

Hughson suggested that since they are making so many changes to the ordinance, it should be discussed over two readings. 

“Let’s start over. Let’s look at what we have. We won’t destroy the one that we have in place. We start over with the new one with two readings,” said Hughson.

Since there was no motion to postpone, the council did not have to set a date for the next discussion on the Lobbying Ordinance. After the Ethics Review Commission reviews the ordinance, it will be discussed by the city council once again. 

Council members also went into executive session to receive a briefing on pending litigation regarding the “Trump Train” Lawsuit, which involves Eric Cervini, Wendy Davis, David Gins and Timothy Holloway versus Chase Stapp, Brandon Winkenwerder, Matthew Daenzer, and the City of San Marcos.

A briefing and deliberation on Blanco Riverine Acquisitions also occurred during the executive session. 

The Work Session video and agenda can be viewed on the San Marcos City Council website

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