Radical change is set to come to cities across Texas in the near future as the Texas Legislature has approved a bill that will alter the power of local governments to regulate themselves.
House Bill 2127 will create a legal regime whereby the state will be the preemptive legal authority in a sweeping array of fields. Nicknamed the Death Star Bill by opponents, it is on Governor Abbott’s desk waiting for his signature.
What is in the Death Star Bill?
House Bill 2127 is designed to take back a great deal of regulatory power from local governments and give it to the state instead. Many of the areas affected will have a large impact on how local operations work, including “agriculture, business and commerce, finance, insurance, labor, occupations, property, local government and natural resources.”
Local administrators are struggling with the pending impact of these sweeping changes as they seek to manage issues in their locality. In San Antonio, local officials are considering how these changes will impact their ability to manage the severe heat during summer months. Under the new legislation, city officials would no longer have the authority to issue regulations to businesses on how to manage the heat.
Who does this legislation impact the most?
The most direct impact from this legislation will fall on cities and municipalities across the state as they are no longer allowed to issue laws in relation to these areas of law. Beyond the direct impact, this will have a wide impact on workers and ordinary people, as many business regulations and local ordinances are being preempted by state law.
Some examples of how this can happen is through local water restrictions being lifted as state laws on water usage supersede local restrictions during drought conditions, or how local labor rules like those governing breaks during heat will be overridden by state rules.
For San Antonio city officials, proposed protections for the heat wave are on pause while the city determines a pathway forward.