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San Antonio mayor brings local control fight to White House as Biden announces heat protections


AUSTIN (Nexstar) — San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg joined President Biden during a White House announcement of extreme protections Thursday, stressing his advocacy for local regulations as his city sues the state of Texas over local control.

“Texas cities are in a battle with the state for local control,” the mayor told the president. San Antonio joined Houston this week in suing the state over a new law that will preempt a wide range of local ordinances in favor of uniform standards in Texas law.

“We’re going to do everything possible to protect our most vulnerable workers, especially those outdoor workers, for basic things like being able to access water breaks,” Nirenberg said.

House Bill 2127 asserts the state’s dominance across sweeping areas of law including labor, employment, and environmental codes, preventing local governments from regulating those areas in ways that may conflict with state law. It does not prevent anyone from taking a water break. It could, however, nullify local ordinances that require certain water break standards.

That issue has been a rallying cry for local governments attempting to preserve their autonomy as Texas endures a brutal heat wave.

“Lawmakers have overstepped and abused their authority,” Nirenberg said Tuesday. “This bill has and will continue to create widespread confusion and uncertainty.”

Thursday morning, The White House announced a series of measures to protect outdoor workers.

“[We’re] taking steps to help people get through this tough time. And we’re also going to talk about steps we’re taking to help communities prepare, plan, and recover and make our nation more resilient in future heatwaves,” President Biden said.

The president announced the Department of Labor will increase inspections in “high-risk industries” like construction and agriculture, and will issue the “first-ever Hazard Alert for heat.” The White House said this will “reaffirm that workers have heat-related protections under federal law.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is also investing up to $7 million to improve weather forecasts. This will go towards a new Data Assimilation Consortium “focused on developing better weather-prediction capabilities.” NOAA Director Richard Spinrad told Nexstar this will allow national forecasters to predict extreme weather events sooner, and allow Americans to better prepare for them.

“We need to check up on each other and really realize that heat is the number one killer,” the Director of the National Weather Service Ken Graham told Nexstar on Thursday. “As the summers continue to get this warm, we need to have ways to be able to mitigate that to keep people safe.”


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