In a marathon hearing on Saturday, the Texas Senate Committee on Business & Commerce heard testimony and voted on several items of legislation intended to scale back the growing “patchwork quilt” of regulations being installed at the local level.
Since he was elected in 2014, Gov. Greg Abbott has prioritized repealing many of Texas’ new and burdensome regulations adopted by cities and counties he argues “erodes the Texas model.” To combat this “California-zation” of Texas, Abbott has proposed legislation that would pre-empt local statutes and instead install a uniform, statewide regulatory framework, or simply devolve power back to the hands of citizens.
During the special session, Abbott has asked lawmakers to pass pre-emption legislation on texting while driving, tree trimming, and property development, filed by State Sens. Don Huffines (R–Dallas), Bob Hall (R–Canton), and Dawn Buckingham (R–Lakeway) respectively. Each item was left pending in the Business & Commerce committee meeting with a vote likely next week.
Each item was met with fierce resistance from tax funded lobbying organizations including the Texas Municipal League and the Texas Association of Counties, but despite their opposition, lawmakers advanced both the texting and tree trimming pre-emption bills. Texting passed by a party-line vote of 7-2 and tree trimming advanced by a vote of 6-3 with all but one Republican lawmaker voting in favor of sending the legislation to the full Senate.
Buckingham, meanwhile, is working on her property development bill and is expected to bring an amended version back for consideration later this week. Last month, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pledged the Texas Senate would move quickly on passing Abbott’s special session agenda, and so far he appears making good on that promise.