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News Summary

State, cities set to square off

Publication Date: 9/15/2016
  • Author:JOHN AUSTIN
  • Publication:Mineral Wells Index

...The Legislature in 2015 saw about 70 proposals to take power from local hands, and Texas lawmakers made national news when they overrode Denton's ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, prohibiting such ordinances.

The coming session will likely bring more of the same, with a bill aimed at prohibiting cities from banning plastic bags and a measure to exercise uniform statewide control of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

"There is certainly a concerted effort by companies that are affected by local ordinances to have those ordinances pre-empted by state legislation," said Thomas O. McGarity, a University of Texas School of Law professor. "It's going to continue to be a big issue in Texas, where you have liberal urban areas and very conservative state Legislatures due to gerrymandering."

It's all part of a pre-emption clash between Republican-dominated state legislatures and Democratic-run cities that’s taking place across the U.S....

But critics say preventing cities from passing ordinances, such as banning plastic bags, ignores the fact that they might have a good reason: keeping cattle from swallowing them, for example.

Sandlin said that "cities should be the laboratories of democracy when local differences and geography make it a good idea."...