With local control under fire from the Texas Legislature on issues ranging from ride-sharing to home-sharing to bathroom-sharing, maybe what Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday should not have come as a surprise. But it did.
During a question-and-answer session at a conservative forum in Corpus Christi, Abbott said lawmakers should quit messing around with this issue-by-issue, law-by-law approach and just pass a bill that says the state will overrule local officials whenever it wants.
In his words, first reported by The Texas Tribune:
“As opposed to the state having to take multiple rifle-shot approaches at overriding local regulations, I think a broad-based law by the state of Texas that says across the board, the state is going to pre-empt local regulations, is a superior approach.”
It takes awhile for that to sink in. If it helps, the governor elaborated:
The broad stroke, he said, “makes it more simple, more elegant, but more importantly, provides greater advance notice to businesses and to individuals that you’re going to have the certainty to run your lives.”
Apparently, it provides “certainty” to know that the 28 chapters of Fort Worth’s city charter and the 35 chapters of its city code, including gosh-knows how many ordinances, might be blown away like dust.
Some see hypocrisy in a state government that has spent at least eight years decrying federal overreach now asserting a blanket override of local government.
Abbott has that covered.
“Economic freedom in this country rests not with the federal government, not with state government, not with local government,” the governor said. “If you really want to talk about local control, you reduce it to the lowest common denominator and that is the individual. We retain the right as individuals for our own local control, for each of us, to be able to chart our own course, chart our own destiny based upon our own DNA.”
Picture state pre-emption of local zoning regulations, the laws that separate and guide different types of land use so everybody knows what sorts of development to expect next door.
If an individual developer follows his “own DNA,” he builds whatever he wants, wherever he wants, helter-skelter.
Maybe that’s not what the governor meant, but that’s what he said.