Coalition of cities along I-35 corridor band together during special session

Prior to the start of the special session, San Marcos city officials decided they needed a way to amplify their voice. With a number of bills filed that could diminish the city's power over local tree ordinances, property tax regulations and texting-while-driving, city officials decided it would be best to band together with other municipalities along I-35 and share common concerns.

Kristi Wyatt, the spokesperson for the city of San Marcos, said it was important for the city to reach out to like-minded localities that shared similar problems. Even though San Marcos sits squarely between Austin and San Antonio, the college town isn't similar to its larger counterparts.

"We needed to broaden our reach when it comes to the special session," Wyatt said.

San Marcos began contacting fellow I-35 corridor cities, and has formally made a coalition with the cities of Round Rock, Georgetown and Buda.

After corresponding largely via e-mail, the cities met in person for the first time on Tuesday with Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, who represents San Marcos and Buda residents, and Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock, who represents the cities north of Austin.

Wyatt said the meeting went well, with elected officials addressing issues they had with proposed rollback rate limits and annexation bills.

"We talked about annexation and some of our success stories," Wyatt said. "It is really important to us to focus on how things work in not just in one city, but how things work uniquely in every city."

Wyatt said the conversation with the legislators covered short term rentals (which is not on the special session call), property tax legislation and annexation bills.

The group wants to continue focusing on bills related to local control, including the one filed that addresses tree ordinances.

"One of our key points is that the legislature meets every two years, and for the most part, city councils meet every two weeks," she said.

San Marcos Mayor John Thomaides is one of the group of mayors that met with Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday at the Capitol to talk local control bills.

Thomaides, along with the mayors of Galveston and Corpus Christi, sat down with Abbott in what Wyatt described as the first step in a lasting dialogue.