Watch the full Amarillo City Council meeting for Oct. 24 in the playlist below:
AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – The Amarillo City Council published the agenda for its meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 3 p.m., which will include discussions on items such as a Cost of Living Adjustment for city retirees, paid parking in the Central Business District, a resolution supporting prohibiting employer mandates for the COVID-19 vaccination, and the possibility of a local ordinance related to the Texas state abortion policies.
According to the published agenda, the city council will address a number of consent items during the meeting, most of which will be related to adopting ordinances amending the Municipal Code to adopt updated editions of international codes related to residences, energy conservation, gas, buildings, plumbing, and others. The council will also consider accepting and approving a number of grants and purchases, such as the Project Safe Neighborhood Grant and a contract amendment for sidewalk construction in the San Jacinto neighborhood.
Among the non-consent items on the agenda, the city council is expected to discuss a number of ordinances and resolutions on Tuesday, including a resolution that would support legislation from Texas state lawmakers that would ban private employers from requiring their employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The related state bill, Senate Bill 7, would subject employers to a $10,000 fine if they take “adverse action” against an employee, contractor, or applicant who refuses to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Further, non-consent items up for discussion by the city council include the possible repeal of Chapter 16-5 of the Municipal Code. That chapter relates to paid parking areas around Downtown Amarillo and the related fees and processes.
There will also be the first reading of an ordinance regarding Amarillo’s Texas Municipal Retirement System benefits. According to the agenda, the ordinance would adopt a non-retroactive repeating Cost of Living Adjustments for retirees and their beneficiaries under the TMRS Act,
As discussed in August during the Amarillo city budget workshops, police officers and other city employees who have retired have not seen a COLA increase since 2011. Under the TMRS Act, which was in part the result of local efforts at a state level, Amarillo has three options for increasing COLA for its retirees while avoiding backpay requirements: Going into a fully-funded 70% COLA in 2024, building from 50% to 70% across 2024 and 2025, or building from 30% to 50% to 70% across 2024 through 2026.
Lastly, the final discussion item listed on the agenda for Tuesday was one focused on discussing Texas state policies on abortion, as well as “any other local ordinance that could be considered.”
This discussion comes one day after Lubbock County commissioners voted to “reaffirm” the county as a “sanctuary for the unborn,” outlawing abortion, abortion-related medication and traveling for the purpose of abortion in Lubbock County. While that and similar ordinances have been seen by its supporters as a positive in criminalizing abortion and those who pursue or enable the procedure, opponents have raised numerous concerns about overreach, unlawful restrictions and misinformation regarding interstate travel, and enforceability.
Although no specific ordinance or resolution has yet been put on an agenda for Amarillo, the idea of identifying Amarillo as a “sanctuary city for the unborn” has been a continuing point of debate in the community for a number of years, since the idea of a “sanctuary city” was popularized in Texas related to immigration policies in 2016 and later had the language co-opted by anti-abortion activists.
The full Amarillo City Council meeting agenda can be viewed below. The full agenda packet can be found here.