The battle between local governments and the Texas Legislature spilled into the courtroom Tuesday after State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) and nineteen other Republican lawmakers filed an amicus curiae brief in a high profile lawsuit challenging Laredo’s bag ban ordinance.
In the brief, Rinaldi et al side with the Laredo Merchants Association, a group of businesses in the border city who have brought suit against the City of Laredo over a municipal ordinance that prohibits retailers from providing or selling plastic bags to customers. According to the association, that ordinance interferes with a state law—an argument supported by Gov. Abbott during his time as Texas Attorney General.
In the brief, Rinaldi and other Republican lawmakers largely echo then-Attorney General Abbott’s argument that cities have overstepped their authority.
“Cities need to understand that the Legislature can and will step in when authority delegated to them by the sovereign state of Texas has been abused to restrict liberty and constrain the free flow of commerce,” said Rinaldi in a statement. “In this instance, the Legislature anticipated these types of power grabs by local municipalities and passed a peremptory state statute that trumps Laredo’s bag ban ordinance.”
Repealing bag bans has been a major initiative for Rinaldi, who authored legislation last session to kill existing bans and fees previously enacted by cities and prevent other municipalities from doing the same. Unfortunately for Texans, that bill was referred by House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) to a committee chaired by a Democrat — who killed it at the behest of tax-funded lobbyists with the Texas Municipal League (TML).
The organization has filed its own brief in the Laredo Merchants Assoc. v. City of Laredo case. Unsurprisingly, they’ve sided against the business owners and Republican lawmakers and with civic regulators instead.
In filing the brief, Rinaldi was joined by State Sens. Konni Burton (Colleyville), Don Huffines (Dallas), and Bob Hall (Canton) as well as State Reps. Dustin Burrows (Lubbock), Wayne Faircloth (Galveston), Dan Flynn (Canton), Bryan Hughes (Mineola), Mark Keough (The Woodlands), Matt Krause (Fort Worth), Jodie Laubenberg (Parker), Jeff Leach (Plano), Matt Shaheen (Plano), Ron Simmons (Carollton), Jonathan Stickland (Bedford), Tony Tinderholt (Arlington), and Molly White (Belton).