As Texans fight against government overreach, Republican State Rep. Brian Harrison of Midlothian filed two measures that would require judges to interpret state law without yielding to any state agency’s view of the rule.

Earlier this week, Harrison submitted House Bill 1947 and House Bill 1948, both of which would limit the influence of state agencies in interpretations of Texas law.

HB 1947 would end the practice of judges automatically siding with a state agency in its interpretation of a statute, agency rule, or guidance document issued by the agency. Instead, the measure would require judges to evaluate the rule separately from the agency’s interpretation.

Harrison’s legislation proposes that if an action is brought against a state agency over an ambiguous policy, the judge must review the measure and then rule in a way that would limit the state agency’s authority instead of giving the agency more power of interpretation.

The measure would also require administrative law judges to follow the same practices.

Daniel Dew, the legal policy director for the Pacific Legal Foundation, praised HB 1947 for limiting “big government” in Texas.

“When Texans walk into courthouses, they are often greeted by a depiction of a blindfolded Lady Justice who reassures all who enter that the law will be applied fairly and evenly,” said Dew. “Unfortunately, court doctrines favoring big government have leaked into Texas’ state court system, and HB 1947 ensures that Texans will have a fair shot to have their cases heard.”

Harrison’s other measure, HB 1948, would require agencies in Texas’ executive branch to run all proposed rule changes by either the governor or an elected official in charge of the agency before implementing any proposed rule.

“Regulations promulgated by bureaucrats have the same power as law without the legislative process, and Texans should have the right to know who is behind those regulations,” said Dew. “By requiring the governor to sign off on final rules and regulations, Texans will know who to hold accountable, and the governor will be given more power to control his administration. HB 1948 is a win for Texans and the governor.”

Harrison promoted his two pieces of legislation as one way for the Texas Legislature to “[rein] in the administrative state” and restore power to citizens.

“Unelected bureaucrats both writing and enforcing laws is the biggest threat to our constitutional system of divided government, and we must shift power back to the people’s elected representatives,” said Harrison. “We also must reset the balance of power between regulators and the Texans they regulate by stopping the courts from showing favoritism to bureaucrats in court.”

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.