Houston city attorneys said Monday they plan to challenge the constitutionality of a new Texas law that gives Houston firefighters mandatory arbitration in their long-running contract stalemate.
Lowell Denton, an attorney for the city, told District Judge Lauren Reeder in a preliminary hearing that the city plans to mount the challenge, a prospect that could delay a result to the years-long court battle between the Turner administration and the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.
The two sides have been mired in political and court battles since 2017, when the union’s most recent contract expired. They were unable to agree on a new one, and the union sued the city alleging it was breaking the state law that governs how cities pay police officers and firefighters.
The city challenged a key tenet of that law as well, contributing to years of lengthy appeals. The Supreme Court of Texas rejected the city’s argument in March, while at the same time striking down Prop B, a charter amendment that Houston voters passed in 2018 to give firefighters pay parity with police of equal rank and seniority.
See here for some background. I didn’t follow the bill in question, which was authored by one John Whitmire – you can guess what might happen to this litigation if the Mayoral race goes a particular way – nor do I have any thoughts about its likelihood of surviving in court. I just thought this would be an opportune moment to list the now-signed bills that will surely be challenged in a couple of months.
1. The two laws targeting Harris County elections.
2. The law banning gender-affirming care; similar laws in other states have been blocked or struck down.
3. The law that will require rating library books for content; there’s already litigation over library book bans, which is a separate thing.
4. The anti-drag show law; a similar law in Tennessee was ruled unconstitutional.
5. The Death Star anti-local control law, which is already generating great headlines. I hadn’t seen any news stories about litigation against this one before this week and then Houston Landing wrote about it on Monday and included a bit about the potential for litigation. The San Antonio Report had an article on the same topic the next day.
6. The school chaplain law, which on Monday drew a litigation threat from the ACLU of Texas.
There’s probably more but those are my top six. Note that actual litigation won’t be filed until at least September, which is when these new laws kick in. Lots of lawyers are going to be very busy very soon.