April 24, 2015

#TxLege — Freedom from Big Gov for me, but not for thee, Texas cities (updated)

Texas politicians, whether many current occupants of the Legislature, or even more, the past and current governors and the current lieutenant governor, are fond of wanting Washington off Austin's back. After all, our new governor, when he was attorney general, used to brag about waking up and suing Obama, even though he often lost those cases.

But, especially in the current year and current legislature, home-rule cities' attempts to be free from Austin's tyrannical thumb, it's a different story.

Many of us have read the basics, but the Texas Municipal League shows just how bad it is, per Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League:
“Every legislative session, bills are introduced to prohibit, limit, or require certain actions by local governments. But this year, legislators have launched an unprecedented assault on the authority to make decisions at the local level.”
The top bill on that list is, of course, a larger-scale response to Denton's ban on fracking. Other legislation specifically addresses fracking. Yet other oil and gas related legislation would ban cities from going beyond the state in pipeline regulations.

Update: Meanwhile, as of April 24, I'm updating this post. It seems the hypocrisy needs to include TML itself, which went "neutral" on the revised version of House Bill 40, which bans local control over fracking.

But there are other fun ones. Doubling down on the "Oprah law" about agricultural defamation a number of years ago, some people in the Lege want to restrict cities' rights to put extra regulation on agricultural products.

Another biggie, about one-third of the way down the page, and of high importance with Indiana and Arkansas' recent Religious Freedom Restoration Act tussles, would prohibit cities from going beyond state law in adopting ordinances that create a protected class or prohibit discrimination on a basis not contained in state laws.

In plain English, no more HERO ordinances if this passes.

Related to that, another one would prohibit cities from enforcing any federal law the state finds in violation of the state constitution. We'll call that the anti-gay marriage services law.

Sandlin, again, talks about stuff like this:
“Texans want their community to be able to solve its own problems in its own way. When politicians in Austin decry a ‘patchwork’ of local ordinances, they are saying all 26 million Texans must conform to one way of thinking and one way of living dictated by the legislature.  Texans care deeply about their own neighborhood but they aren’t losing sleep over local ordinances in a city 300 miles away.”
And, that's not all.

Other laws, if passed, would:
  • Bar cities keeping their police officers from being immigration cops if the state says they have to.
  • Prevent local regulation of Tasers (Waiting for Taser Open Carry Tarrant County to form)
  • Keep cities from keeping propane tanks off urban property
  • Prohibit cities from enforcing federal firearms laws
And, the winner of the tinfoil hat prize? The Lege wants to ban cities from
Enter(ing) into agreements, contracts, accept money from or grant money to any organization accredited by the United Nations to implement policy that originated in Agenda 21.
That's our Lege!

TML has promised that link will be updated, so you can bookmark it.


Katy Anders said...

Not that it matters for these folks, but passing a law prevents enforcement of any federal law in conflict with the state constitution is... Well, that's not how it works under our system.

I am sure that there are enough lawyers up there in Austin that they know that.

I'll let it slide, though, since the legislature is the only thing standing between us and Shariah Law!

Gadfly said...

Unfortunately, the same Lege would have no problem ushering in Dominionist or Reconstructionist law if it thought it could get away with it!