AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Republican lawmakers this legislative session are looking to expand State authority and shrink local control at the city and county level.
House Bill 2127 would keep municipalities from passing or enforcing local rules in several critical areas "unless explicitly authorized by statute."
Authored by State Rep. Dustin Burrows and backed by Gov. Greg Abbott, if HB 2127 is passed, a city or county may no longer be able to adopt or enforce ordinances or orders designed to protect its residents from drought conditions, overgrown lots, dangerous animals, predatory lending businesses, controlled burns and local sporting events. It would also nullify some rules made to protect workers.
The bill was presented to the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
The proposed legislation builds on nearly a decade of state Republican attacks on the autonomy of Texas cities – like Austin’s attempted ban on single-use plastic bags or Denton’s failed attempt to keep fracking out of city limits, which Burrows has referred to. He also pointed to what he called “the Green New Deal," or Dallas trying to ban gas-powered lawn mowers.
"Progressive urban centers are beginning to pass all sorts of things they historically have never touched before," Burrows told the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. "Progressive activists who can’t get their agenda through the state house now go down to our city councils to pass rules, which are hurting business."
Prior to HB 2127 making its way to the House State of Affairs Committee, lawmakers, local elected officials and community organizations gathered at the Capitol for a press conference to denounce the legislative efforts. There was a heavy focus on how HB 2127 could potentially harm working Texans.
The legislation would nullify rules that Austin and Dallas have passed to protect workers against dangerous summer heat.
"Workers in Dallas and Austin have the right … construction workers have the right to take a 10-minute break every four hours to have some water in the heat of day because of action taken by local government," Rick Levy, president of AFL-CIO said. "This bill would strip that right."
Others claimed this would also affect rules against discrimination.
"A few of the critical policies prohibited under HB 2127 impacting workers include rest breaks, fair chance hiring, valid crown acts that protect against hair discrimination, leave policies for parents and potentially non-discrimination ordinances," said Marisa Bono, CEO of Every Texan.
KVUE reached out to Burrows' office for his response to those who oppose HB 2127 ahead of the committee hearing, but he was unavailable.