On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott doubled down on earlier statements calling for a “broad-based law” pre-empting local regulations.
Though “local control” hasn’t received as much attention this session as observers expected, the battle is quickly bubbling to the surface as lawmakers deliberate the balance of power between state and local government.
Abbott’s distaste for the state’s current regulatory environment is nothing new. Shortly after being sworn into office, the governor blasted the growing number of local regulations as the “California-ization of Texas” and a “patchwork quilt of bans and regulations that is eroding the Texas model.”
While the Texas Legislature acted on one of the more egregious examples last session by undoing Denton’s anti-fracking ordinance, other items were left unaddressed. And as new products and services such as Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB come to Texas, more and more municipalities will attempt to regulate their practices.
To address the issue, many conservatives argued that the Texas Legislature needed to deal with the problem head on and pass legislation explicitly restricting local governments’ ability to wage war on Texans liberties.
Speaking to supporters on Monday, Abbott strongly endorsed such an approach.
“It would be far simpler and frankly easier for those of you who have to run your lives and businesses on a daily basis if the state of Texas adopted an overriding policy and that is to create certain standards that must be met before which local municipalities or counties can establish new regulations,” said Abbott.
“This country isn’t the ‘United States of Municipalities,’” he added.
Despite Abbott’s support, attempts to rein in local governments are expected to be met with stiff resistance from the Texas House.
In an interview last week, House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio) sharply disagreed with Abbott, saying he does not believe a “blanket policy on exerting power from Austin over locals is a particularly attractive idea.”
Conservatives should support Abbott and demand the Texas Legislature prohibit local, job killing regulations from turning Texas into California.