Left-wing newspapers are clamoring for “local control” ahead of the 2017 legislative session. What they really want is local government control, but only if it advances their “progressive” agenda.

Here’s the problem with local control: Neither local governments, nor a majority of citizens, have to legal authority to pass any law they want. That’s the definition of tyranny. Texans don’t live in a democracy—they live in a constitutional republic.

Left-wingers pushing “progressive” policies want local politicians to have unlimited power, primarily because urban cities are dominated by the big-government Left. Democrats are terrified by interference from conservative state lawmakers. That’s precisely why when cities pass abusive laws favored by progressives, critics are attacked under the guise of “local control.” The same rhetoric is used against those pushing for property tax reform.

The argument for “local control” is as follows: Voters elect their councils and school boards and we ought to let them govern. After all, localities are the closest and most accountable to voters, so state lawmakers shouldn’t interfere.

But governments are instituted to protect the natural rights of individuals, not the whims of the majority. That’s not right-wing political propaganda, it’s an explicit fact sourced from our U.S. and state constitutions.

If a local government runs amok, state lawmakers are obligated to stop it. They swear an oath to protect the rights of Texans.

Would it be lawful for a majority of voters to unilaterally create a new tax on atheists? No, and for many reasons, but you probably also didn’t know that local referendums can only repeal taxes, not create them.

Would it be lawful for a city to declare itself a “safe-speech zone,” requiring that newspapers have their content approved by city regulators? No.

If a city enacted a “crime-fighting” ordinance instructing police officers to ignore probable cause or the need for warrants – so they can freely enter homes and businesses – would that be lawful? Of course not.

Can a city council – or a majority of its citizens – legally enact an ordinance allowing babies to be aborted in the third trimester, or abandoned after birth? No.

All governments in Texas have limited powers because they are subservient to the people. And under Texas’ constitution, local governments are subservient to the state. But the rights of the people are paramount, above both the state and localities.

Local governments cannot do whatever they please and neither can a local voting majority. The next time you hear someone pushing “local control” or “home rule,” consider the source, and remember—Texas is not a democracy.

Ross Kecseg

Ross Kecseg was the president of Texas Scorecard. He passed away in 2020. A native North Texan, he was raised in Denton County. Ross studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and U.S. Constitutional history. Ross was an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie. He was a loving husband and father.

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