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Effort To Control Local Governments On Hold For Now


Homeowners, industry leaders and those in the oil and gas business provided some heated testimony about a bill that would have required cities to take prior approval for all local referendums in future.  

The bill by Weatherford Republican Rep. Phil King was created in response to the City of Denton’s ban on “fracking”, but it would have affected other city ordinances that voters were able to get on a ballot using petitions.  

King said his bill would rein in more than just fracking bans. “You can have issues that may actually be illegal, like trying to legalize marijuana at the local level, or take some other thing. But I think the key to remember in this kind of discussion is not if it is big government or local control, but if you can have big government at the local level,” King told the committee.

Credit Ryan E. Poppe
Denton-homeowner Sharon Wilson testified against HB 540.

Denton homeowner Sharon Wilson said they petitioned state agencies to help curb the hundreds of wells being erected inside the city, some less than 200 feet from someone’s bedroom window. “The most ironic thing is that when the city could not solve the problem because industry was bullying the city, they told the citizens this needs to be solved in Austin. So we came to the state and we asked them for help and they said this has to be solved at the local level,” Wilson said, outside the committee hearing.

The House’s Committee on State Affairs decided to not take a vote on the bill and leave it pending in committee for the moment.