Republicans in the Texas Legislature are pushing two proposals that would take control of municipal laws, including worker rights and drought water limits.
House Bill 2127, supported by Gov. Greg Abbott and industry lobbying groups, would prohibit cities and counties from enacting and overturning laws that exceed state law in labor, agriculture, natural resources, and finance. The Texas House approved it Tuesday by a 92-55 vote but must vote again.
The bill’s supporters say it’s essential to tackle a growing patchwork of local restrictions that hurt business owners and the state’s economy. Urban areas dominate Texas’ economic growth and jobs.
Democrats, municipal leaders, low-income worker advocates, and environmental groups oppose the plan, seeing it as a power grab that will hinder local government from meeting community needs.
Grand Prairie Democrat Rep. Chris Turner called the bill “unconstitutional” during a House debate Tuesday.
The Texas AFL-CIO’s Rick Levy called Tuesday’s vote a “radical attack on our democracy and on the voices of local voters across our state” and a “strong message to workers… that they don’t deserve even the most basic protections.”
Critics say the law will bar towns and counties from fighting predatory lending, addressing noise complaints, implementing nondiscrimination laws, creating invasive-species programs, and more. Gutting city regulations entirely instead of considering them individually short-circuits the democratic process, opponents said.
The bill’s effects are unclear due to its breadth. Opponents worry they’ve merely touched the surface of the legislation’s possible effects months after Burrows released the initial draft. Democrats failed to cut out municipal legislation including nondiscrimination ordinances and workplace se*ual harassment safeguards on Tuesday. If the bill or Senate Bill 814, carried by Conroe Republican Brandon Creighton, passes, local governments will be flooded with litigation.