Texas Battle For "Local Control" Part Of A National Trend

Aug 6, 2017

Credit Larry D. Moore / Wikimedia Commons

One of the overarching struggles in Texas this year has been a pitched battle between cities and the state over who should have the right to make laws for local municipalities. This battle has manifested in myriad ways, from heated debates over bathroom usage and “sanctuary cities,” to arguments over property taxes, school vouchers, and texting-while-driving laws.

The debate has even made itself heard in the Texas Panhandle, as local politicians like Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson and State Senator Kel Seliger have protested the efforts of Republicans in the State Legislature to exert their authority over cities like Amarillo.

But now, as The Texas Observer reports, this war over “local control” looks to be part of a wider national trend. Three other states, Georgia, Indiana and Mississippi, have passed laws that don’t allow cities to declare themselves immigrant sanctuaries. Meanwhile, several states including Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio have overruled laws passed by cities to raise their minimum wage.

In Texas, the effort to squelch local sovereignty first gained traction after the City of Denton upset state GOP leaders by declaring itself a no-fracking zone.

But there is a resistance growing in opposition to strict state control over local municipalities. Last week in Austin, 150 progressive officials showed up at the State Capitol to protest what they see as government overreach.