Late Friday, the City of Houston filed a motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit against the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association to halt the implementation of voter-approved Proposition B.

Prop B was a ballot initiative to institute pay parity between Houston Police Department and Houston Fire Department.

Despite numerous claims in recent weeks by Mayor Sylvester Turner and members of his administration to council, the media, and the public that they were “in the process of implementing Prop B,” the city’s motion argues that Prop B is unconstitutional and should not go into effect.

“Because Prop B in its entirety is inconsistent with Chapter 174 – one of the state’s ‘general laws’ – the Court must declare Prop B unconstitutional and void,” reads the brief.

Voters passed Prop B during the November election, more than 100 days ago, and in the time since, Turner has repeatedly claimed that his administration was implementing it.

At a recent hearing, the city’s deputy finance director, Will Jones, repeated the claim but failed to give a timeline of implementation when pressed by Council Member Brenda Stardig. He claimed they had to “define” what parity meant, create pay codes, and other administrative tasks before the pay parity between firefighters and police could actually take effect, so a timeline was hard to nail down. Despite the claims of attempting to uphold the will of the 298,733 voters who supported the ballot measure, the city is now using tax dollars to challenge their decision.

The city’s argument hinges on a few assumptions:

  • The measure is preempted by Chapter 174 of the Texas Local Government Code, which deals with collective bargaining.
  • It “frustrates” other provisions in Chapter 174 that deal with compensation, bargaining, and employment conditions.
  • The measure is inconsistent with the general laws of the State of Texas.

Texas Scorecard reached out to the mayor’s office, but at time of publication they had not released a statement.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Houston City Hall: 713-837-0311


Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.


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