With lawmakers back in Austin for a special session, Gov. Greg Abbott has given them an extensive list of conservative reforms he wants them to pass during the 30-day taxpayer-funded overtime. And he’s been insistent that members of the Texas Legislature have no excuse for failing to pass every item on his list.
“If they don’t get it done it’s because they’re lazy. It’s because they lacked the will,” said Abbott. “They lack the desire to get this done, and the taxpayers of the state of Texas are not going to tolerate it.”
So far Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate have moved in lockstep with the governor and are literally working past midnight to ensure that every item on Abbott’s agenda passes the upper chamber. Meanwhile, the Texas House is moving to obstruct those same bills, especially the items that relate to restraining the overreach of local government and returning power to Texans.
Abbott and taxpayers are demanding property tax reform, spending limits for local governments, and preemption of nanny-state local regulations. However, so far the forecast is gloomy in the Texas House.
Though lawmakers did little to limit local government overreach during the regular session of the 85th Texas Legislature, they did score a significant victory two years ago in the 84th—passing a major bill to preempt municipal regulations on fracking with massive bipartisan support.
Indeed, only one Republican voted against the bill, House Republican Caucus Chairman Tan Parker, whose hometown of Flower Mound, like almost all other cities in the state, opposed the legislation. Parker could be gearing up for a repeat on the issue of tree trimming regulations during the special session.
In an article published yesterday in the Flower Mound Leader, city officials staked out strong opposition to preemption of unconstitutional tree ordinances proposed by Abbott.
“The topic is trees. Several years ago, it was oil and gas drilling,” Mayor Tom Hayden told the Leader, referring to House Bill 40 in 2015. “There was a law passed that said oil and gas drilling in Midland-Odessa should be the same as it is in Flower Mound. So our ability to have control over oil and gas drilling was stripped from us. Now it’s this.”
At the most recent meeting of the Flower Mound Town Council, Hayden and other local officials pushed for the town to pass a resolution against Abbott’s proposal and other items that limit their power. They also discussed reaching out to the tax-funded lobbyists at the Texas Municipal League to coordinate their resistance to preemption legislation with other cities.
If conservatives are going to score pro-taxpayer victories during the special session they will need Republican lawmakers in the House to force Abbott’s agenda to the forefront and that begins with Caucus Chairman Tan Parker. He must come out strongly and forcefully for all of the issues on Abbott’s call.
However it’s not looking very good.
Chairman Parker did not respond to a request for comment by Texas Scorecard, but citizens wishing to know if he will support the governor and the grassroots should contact his office themselves.
Phone: (512) 463-0688
Hopefully he’ll answer your phone calls.