Texas Passes Bill To Curtail Dem Cities’ Local Powers

Screenshot/Twitter/Brad Johnson

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Arjun Singh Contributor
Font Size:

The Texas legislature passed a bill Tuesday that would strip municipalities of their power to regulate several areas of activity and transfer their jurisdiction to the GOP-controlled legislature.

The bill, known as the Texas Regulatory Consistency Act, would prevent all municipalities in the state from passing any ordinance or by-law that conflicts with several state codes regarding agriculture, commerce, insurance, labor, occupations, and property, among others. It was passed by a vote of 18 to 13 in the Texas Senate, over the opposition of all Democrats, with the ordinances of Democratic-led municipalities likely to be invalidated. (RELATED: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Threatens To Veto School Choice Legislation Unless It Is Expanded)

“In recent years, several local jurisdictions have sought to establish their own regulations of commerce that are different than the state’s regulations…which are applied inconsistently,” the act reads. The bill’s sponsor, Republican State Sen. Brandon Creighton, said that it would prevent “cities and counties acting as lawmakers outside of their jurisdiction,” according to The Hill.

It is expected that wide areas of municipal regulation would be invalidated by the law, including ordinances such as the city of Austin’s CROWN Act, which would ban discrimination in hiring employees based on hair texture or style. Proponents of the CROWN Act had argued that it enabled black women – with braids, cornrows and other styles – as well as those with colored hair to work over alleged racial discrimination of employers, according to the city website.

Other ordinances that may be invalidated are “ban the box” ordinances, which prevent employers from asking about an applicant’s arrest history and criminal records early in the hiring process in order to enable equal opportunity for felons to work. Creighton has said that “I do want private employers to make that decision and not the government,” according to the Texas Tribune.

The bill’s opponents include unions and left-wing groups, who have called it the “Death Star” to local control and claimed that municipalities offer reprieve when the Republican-controlled legislature is unresponsive to their demands. This includes the Workers Defense Project, which has advocated for regulations to protect construction workers from excessive heat when working outdoors, saying “[i]t’s a matter of life and death,” which could be invalidated.

“If this whole thing passes this away, your city attorneys are going to be advising their city councils that whatever issue would be preempted and to just not pass it,” said former Democratic State Rep. Robert Miklos, an attorney. Under the bill, a municipality could be sued by anyone affected by their ordinances in conflict with a state law passed after January 1, 2023.

However, business groups have strongly advocated for the bill, which they claim would harmonize regulations across the state for small businesses. “The world’s ninth-largest economy shouldn’t be subjected to the whims of rogue regulators – who often pass onerous mandates in the dead of night,” said Annie Spilman, the Texas state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, per the NFIB’s website.

The NFIB, among other groups, launched an intensive lobbying campaign to pass the bill, including releasing a fact-check sheet to identify “falsehoods” shared by opponents of the bill, such as The Dallas Morning News. The bill now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature, who has indicated he will sign it.

Creighton, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have been contacted with a request for comment.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.