Anti-taxpayer Organization Names ‘Legislators of the Year’

Following a special session in which Gov. Greg Abbott asked lawmakers to enact limits on local government overreach, a municipal lobbying group is celebrating lawmakers who stood in the way of the governor’s pro-taxpayer agenda.

The Texas Municipal League (TML), is an association of city governments created to represent the interests of cities, their politicians, and staff. In addition to advocating against the interest of taxpayers, TML lobbies against them with membership dues collected from their member cities.

In other words, TML uses taxpayer money to lobby against the taxpayers.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that TML’s “Legislators of the Year” included San Antonio-area Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Jose Menendez, and Rep. Diego Bernal. But, TML’s efforts to fleece Texas citizens extends across the aisle to helpful Republicans, namely Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston) and Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster).

In the case of the former two democrats, TML applauds them for “preserving city annexation authority” and speaking out against legislative efforts to “preempt local decisions.” The Republican reps were praised for supporting efforts of local officials to regulate and handle sex offenders.

Conspicuously missing from the congratulatory news release was TML’s undoubted appreciation for these Republican reps’ track record of opposing taxpayers through their catering to city lobbyists.

Rep. Jim Murphy
Rep. Drew Springer

For instance, when presented with the opportunity to craft a free-market solution to the issues surrounding local regulation of Transportation Network Companies like Uber, both reps opposed an amendment seeking do to just that. They put the interests of city lobbyists ahead of consumers.

Both legislators supported a tax measure (HB 486), which would have opened the door for property tax increases. Again, they placated local school districts ahead of taxpayers.

The pair left another clue into their allegiances when they voted repeatedly to stifle the growth of the state’s craft brewing industry by lofting unnecessary regulations, mandates and restrictions on them and also supported cronyist payouts to reimburse NASCAR with state funds for bringing races to Texas, of all places.

When the House debated empowering taxpayers by giving them a voice under municipal annexation law, Springer and Murphy voted to protect more cities’ ability to annex new property owners against their will.

Springer likely solidified his favor with TML when he voted against an amendment that would have lowered the property tax rollback rate, which requires voter approval for property tax hikes above certain amount. In doing so, he joined with House Democrats to put the final nail in the coffin of property tax reform during the special session.

Recognition of these republicans should alarm conservative voters back home. As previously reported, TML’s own policy agenda sets out legislative goals that are clearly anti-taxpayer.

The Governor and grassroots Texas conservatives understand the Austin lobby is more often foe than friend, and that TML’s favorable view of local government control is a proxy for unchallenged authority to soak the taxpayer and limit citizens’ individual liberties. That fact that elected Republican officials are sharing a podium with progressive Democrats tells you all you need to know about whose interests they are representing in Austin.

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Salvador Ayala

Sal is the Budget & Policy Analyst for Empower Texans. He has been a committed proponent of American founding principles since 2007, shortly after receiving his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law. Before joining Empower Texans, he served as legislative director for Rep. Matt Rinaldi in the Texas house and was a delegate to the 2012 RNC. In his leisure, Sal enjoys live music, digital photography, guitar, bicycling, trivia, and documentary films.

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