Booming Texas cities feeling stunted by governor's agendaAugust 13, 2017 12:41am

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — As Texas' big cities boom like few places in the U.S., Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is trying to rein them in and reassert himself ahead of his 2018 re-election bid, but some of his summer demands are wilting.

That includes a "bathroom bill" targeting transgender people that by Saturday was all but dead in Texas for the second time this year. For Abbott, who is out to satisfy his restless base of social conservatives, a special 30-day legislative session that began with him demanding 20 new laws could end next week with many failing.

It also deepened a rift between Republican leaders and Texas' biggest and most economically vibrant cities — Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin — which felt under attack by an agenda heavy on curbing municipal authority. Similar power struggles between cities and states are increasingly playing out nationwide as GOP governors take aim at liberal urban areas where Democrats wield most influence.

Late Saturday, the Republican-controlled House pushed a contentious measure closer to Abbott's desk to the dismay of cities. It would require local officials to get voter approval for tax hikes above a certain threshold, which mayors say would hamper their ability to keep financial pace with their fast-growing cities.

"Texas is best when the state and cities are working together in partnership. Not as adversaries," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. "The irony of all this is that if it is the truly in the business of the Legislature to ensure a strong Texas economy and educate its citizens, they're cutting of their nose off to spite its face."

Republicans have also made attempts to put spending caps on cities and limit the ability to annex new land. Another proposal would take an axe to local ordinances that stop or discourage homeowners from chopping down trees.

Conservatives contend that having a patchwork of local rules puts Texas at a competitive disadvantage and makes cities less inviting with undue regulation. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a firebrand conservative who was the Texas chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, went even further this month, calling cities the source of what ails the nation.

"And where do we have all our problems in America? Not at the state level run by Republicans, but in our cities that are mostly controlled by Democrat mayors and Democrat city council men and women," Patrick told Fox Business Network.

Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League, said the push by Republican leaders is shortsighted. Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature reversed Austin voters who effectively banned ridesharing services Uber and Lyft from operating in the city because the companies would not submit drivers to fingerprint background checks.

"If you have a problem with a plastic bag or an Uber car or a fire because there wasn't enough money to buy a new firetruck, the people who pass those bills need to own up to the fact that it's hard to be mayor," Sandlin said. "They can't handcuff us and then walk away."

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Construction contractor and Donald Trump voter Richard Mathern poses for photos in Cheyenne, Wyo., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. Mathern says tearing down Confederate statues isn't the answer to hate, and that Trump tends to "tick people off" by speaking his mind, but he still supports Trump just as much as the day he voted for him. (AP photo/Mead Gruver)
President Trump's ardent backers support him more than ever
Charlottesville mayor asks for emergency meeting of state lawmakers to allow removal of Confederate statueCharlottesville mayor asks for emergency meeting of state lawmakers to allow removal of Confederate statue
This Tuesday, July 18, 2017 photo shows the Confederate War Memorial honoring Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War at Pioneer Park Cemetery in downtown Dallas. A statue of a Confederate solider stands on top, facing the south. At the monument's base are four more statues, of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston. The four black Dallas city councilmen are calling for the city’s Confederate statues to be removed as way to start healing the city’s racist past. Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway held a news conference Friday afternoon, Aug. 18, 2017 with the other three black city councilmen to “present a unified statement” on the statues. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Dallas' black councilmen say remove statues to heal past
The Latest: Fundraiser aims to counter 'free speech' rallyTo counter a so-called free speech rally on Boston Common, a Boston charity has launched an online fundraising drive asking people to donate $1 or more for every person who attends it
Sen. Tim Kaine visits a makeshift memorial Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, where Heather Heyer was killed Saturday when a car rammed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Julia Rendleman)
Why hate came to the progressive island of Charlottesville
FILE - In this July 25, 2017 file photo, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and other law enforcement take part in public safety event in Austin, Texas. Even as a new Texas law targeting so-called sanctuary cities remains in legal limbo, police chiefs and sheriffs are making changes to comply. Houston police are drafting a policy instructing officers about their responsibilities under the law. Acevedo, an outspoken opponent of Senate Bill 4, said officers will be required to file a report anytime they ask someone about their immigration status. The law goes into effect Sept. 1 unless a federal judge in San Antonio blocks it. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Texas police chiefs start adapting to sanctuary cities law
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

Most Popular

AdChoices