Landmark legislation banning the practice of cities, municipalities, and other taxing entities to hire lobbyists with taxpayer dollars was passed out of a special meeting by the Texas House Committee on State Affairs Wednesday afternoon.

The policy, long fought off by capitol insiders, special interests, and local elected officials who have soaked taxpayers using the practice, has cleared an important hurdle in the legislative process.

Following a motion to suspend the rules and a motion to allow the members of State Affairs to meet on the House floor while colleagues continued to vote on amendments to House Bill 1, freshman State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville) successfully passed House Bill 281.

“The funds that are used to pay lobbyists divert money away from important community services and instead line the pockets of Austin lobbyists,” Middleton previously told Texas Scorecard about the bill. “House Bill 281 encourages direct communication between local communities and state legislators by removing this costly taxpayer-funded middleman.”

Texas Scorecard had the following to say about the bill after its initial committee hearing:

“While legislation to end tax-funded lobbying has been filed in previous sessions, support for ending the practice has been growing in recent years. The Republican Party of Texas added it to its list of legislative priorities during its convention last June, and even Gov. Greg Abbott voiced his support for ending the practice after the City of Tyler made plans to spend $200,000 during the legislative session to lobby against property tax reform.”

HB 281 now heads to the House Calendars Committee, where the bill will be heard before being sent to the House floor for consideration by the members of the full body.

Destin Sensky

Destin Sensky serves as a Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard covering the Texas Legislature, working to bring Texans the honest and accurate coverage they need to hold their elected officials in Austin accountable.