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Texas Republican Government Strips Power From Democratic Cities

Texas Republican Government Strips Power From Democratic Cities

The bill would even ban cities from restricting puppy mills.

A Texas bill that aims to strip power from cities is heading to the governor's desk for signature.

House Bill 2127 takes power away from the state's largely Democratic-run cities and puts it in the hands of the Republican-controlled state government. Many existing ordinances in cities such as Austin or Dallas will soon be nullified under the law.

“Where the state is silent — and it is silent on a lot — local governments step into that breach, to act on behalf of our shared constituents,” Democratic state Senator Sarah Eckhardt said in a Senate session Tuesday. “We should be doing our job rather than micromanaging theirs.”

Such examples include heat protections for construction workers, laws banning discrimination based on ethnic hairstyles, and even bans on puppy mills. The bill also aims to prevent cities from raising their minimum wage above the state minimum, and was initially created in direct opposition of city laws requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave.

While the legislation is framed as a pro-small business law, its broadness may instead harm local businesses. As Houston city attorney Collyn Peddie wrote in an April statement: “If there is one thing businesses hate it is uncertainty."

“Because 2127 barely attempts to define the fields that it purports to preempt, [self-governing] cities will not know what laws to enforce and, more important, businesses will not know what laws to obey,” he said.

Cities will also be beholden to the schedule of the state legislature, which has only passed 38 percent of 10,000 proposed bills in 2022. Adrian Shelley, Texas director of Public Citizen, noted in a statement that under the law, “cities and counties across Texas will have to rely on the state’s part-time Legislature, which meets for only 140 days every two years, to address various issues and problems of local concern."

“Lawmakers who voted for this must explain to their constituents why they gave away local authority to lawmakers hundreds of miles away in Austin who may have never even set foot in their community," she added.

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