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For years, the real battles in the Texas Legislature haven’t been Democrats versus Republicans - they’ve been urban versus rural interests.
That’s changing. When the Legislature convenes on Jan. 10, the new battle will be local control versus state prerogatives. On big issues ranging from sanctuary cities to revenue caps and rules for ride booking apps such as Uber and Lyft, to smaller issues such as plastic bag bans and whether employers can ask job applicants about their criminal histories, lawmakers will contend with cities about the appropriate level of local control.
This flips the script. Local control has been a watchword of conservatives in years past, as they sought to limit rules and unfunded mandates coming out of Austin.
Now, though, it’s the conservatives who say the state is sovereign and that larger cities - which in Texas these days are often more liberal than the Legislature - enact their own rules that go beyond what some lawmakers see as appropriate.
On the right, the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation sees the matter as a proper restoration of the state’s role in policy matters that affect freedom and economic development.
“There’s a big conversation over local control,” said James Quintero, director of the TPPF’s Center for Local Governance. “Local control’s proper use is to rein in government and protect liberty. But it has been misused by those on the left to advance bad policy.”
On the left, the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities agrees that the flashpoints during the upcoming session will be local versus state control.
“That’s exactly what the problem is,” said the Center’s Senior Fiscal Analyst Dick Lavine. “And we want to see local control over local matters. The government closest to the people understands the feelings of the people in the community. And elections keep officials accountable.”
The article goes on to highlight areas of contention. Could be useful for 2306 students looking for a paper topic.
For opinion on the issue: TEXAS VIEW: Local control is the only way to go.