Welcome aboard, there’s plenty of room for more.
After weeks of complaints from council members who say the law’s vagueness is preventing them from doing their jobs, San Antonio leaders said Monday that the city has joined a lawsuit filed by the City of Houston earlier this month. Austin is also considering suing the state over the law.
“We are in solidarity with other Texas municipalities,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a press conference Monday at City Hall. Also in attendance were City Attorney Andy Segovia, City Manager Erik Walsh and Councilwomen Teri Castillo (D5) and Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6).
“This is big government overreach, plain and simple, and it demonstrates the dangers of a radical agenda being codified session after session at the capital,” Nirenberg said.
Houston’s lawsuit claims HB 2127 is in conflict with the state constitution, which in 1912 gave cities the ability to govern themselves. The suit also suggests the new law lacks the “unmistakable clarity” required for a state to intervene in that authority.
The Texas Legislature has explored a number of bills in recent years that would restrict cities’ ability to regulate specific private employment practices, such as paid sick leave mandates, which are strongly opposed by the business community.
Rather than waiting to address those issues as they come up, proponents of HB 2127 say the law will prevent cities from venturing outside the policy areas that the state has explicitly given them authority to regulate in the first place.
The lawsuit San Antonio joined contends that HB 2127 significantly broadens the definition of “preemption,” or the legal concept used when one governing body seeks to restrict a lower government’s ability to set rules in a particular field. The idea is being deployed with increased frequency across the country to change the local governing landscape.
Segovia said the city “will be faced with litigation and continued ambiguity and vagueness” if HB 2127 takes effect.
“Ultimately city taxpayers will bear the brunt of these unanswered questions under HB 2127 through protracted litigation,” he said.
See here and here for the background. As I said, I welcome their participation and I hope they are joined by many other cities, in whatever capacity suits them best. It would be great on a number of levels if some number of smaller cities, in red areas, also sued, because this will affect them as well. I don’t know how likely that is – maybe those cities don’t think this affects them, or maybe there’s too much pressure on them to go along and get along – but it would be nice. I’ll keep an eye on it. The Current and Texas Public Radio have more.