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Government/Politics

Pro-Local Advocates Head To State Capitol To Foil Bill To Limit City Control

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Ryan E. Poppe
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State lawmakers will hear testimony Wednesday on a controversial bill aimed at limiting the type of ordinances and rules that city councils can pass. Opponents argue that the bill calls “what constitutes local control and limited government” into question.

The bill by Weatherford Republican Rep. Phil King would give the state attorney general the ability to revoke any type of ordinance if it was deemed burdensome to the state. An example would be the City of Denton’s ban on fracking, which generates revenue for the state but was considered detrimental to the health of the community. 

Or, perhaps, the impact on retailers faced with a city’s ban on plastic shopping bags, which has been passed in several Texas cities, including Fort Stockton. Darren Hodges is Fort Stockton’s Mayor Pro-tem and he rallied against Rep. King’s bill at the State Capitol.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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Local city officials and community activists wage war on a bill that would require city governments to obtain prior approval on city ordinances.

“It [the ban] took us about two years to implement. You have to take your time when you form these ordinances and so we took a local problem and we worked really hard on a local solution, and it worked, it worked! And I think everyone was happy, we worked with the retailers, we didn’t eliminate anyone from the process,” Hodges explained.

The legislation would also limit cities, like the city of San Antonio, from passing and regulating non-discrimination ordinances.

But it is these local regulations on businesses that Gov. Greg Abbott said was making Texas more like California. Speaking at a Texas Public Policy Foundation legislative event just before the start of the session, Abbott said this.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott supports Rep. King's efforts

“We are forming a patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that is eroding the Texas model. Things like trees; this is a form of collectivism. Some people claim the trees belong to the community, not the private property owner,” Abbott reiterated.

Abbott said he would insist on protecting unlimited liberty to ensure that Texas prospers, which, if he signs a local control bill into law, could mean that cities would be required to have prior authorization from the attorney general before passing an ordinance. A move that has advocates for local government very worried.