Legislative preview: San Marcos prepares lege priorities

The 114th United States Congress began on Jan. 3, and the city of San Marcos is hoping to spur action on a variety of topics, including early childhood education, environmental protections for the San Marcos River and other topics.

The city is working with the Normandy Group, a governmental relations firm headed by former U.S. Congressman Henry Bonilla. The city has worked with the Normandy Group for six years.

"We haven't been successful on everything, but we've been successful on a whole lot of projects in spite of the fact that there's dysfunction in Congress for some years now," Bonilla said.

Bonilla said in his conversations with John Boehner, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, he has sensed an attitude that Congress will soon begin passing legislation again and "get out of the rut that they've been in."

According a presentation from the Normandy Group, the city's areas of focus will include the following:

  • Aviation, including continued support for the federal contract tower program and establishing a customs presence at the San Marcos Regional Airport;

  • Transportation infrastructure, including Lone Star Rail, transit issues, ways to address the city's transportation needs and monitoring ongoing projects such as the Loop 82 overpass, links to SH 130 from San Marcos and construction of Loop 110;

  • Public safety, including grants for the city's police and fire departments as well as the 1115 waiver program, which helps provide medical care to the county's indigent population;

  • Environmental regulations, including protection of the San Marcos River and the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program

  • Neighborhoods, housing and sustainable development, including Community Development Block Grant Program funding, early childhood education funding and funding requirements for the Job Corps program

  • Other federal grants for economic development, transportation, environmental protection and other areas affecting the city's programs and services;

Christine Pellerin, a representative of the Normandy Group, said the city will also plan on keeping a close eye on bills related to higher education funding. The use of pell grants, which provide financial aid to low-income students, will be of particular interest, she said.

"There are a lot of students that depend heavily on federal financial aid in order to attain a college education," Pellerin said. "In particular pell grants are very significant because thankfully at Texas State tuitions have been what they are, and the pell grants make a significant impact on that."


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