Thursday, June 13, 2024

Flower Mound council unites to oppose state bills threatening local control

During a work session on Thursday night, the Flower Mound Town Council will discuss its unified opposition to proposed bills in the Texas Legislature that town leaders believe threaten local government control.

On the agenda for the meeting is “presentation and discussion regarding legislative updates and possible action with a resolution related thereto.” Mayor Derek France posted on his public Facebook page that he, the rest of the Flower Mound Town Council and many other local leaders believe that House Bill 2127, among others, would be the state government overstepping its bounds.

HB 2127–the Texas Regulatory Consistency Act— passed the Texas House on Wednesday, and is backed by Gov. Greg Abbott, Republicans at the state level and business lobbying groups. The bill’s backers say it will combat a growing patchwork of local regulations that make it difficult for business owners to operate, the Texas Tribune reported. It is one of several bills that Republicans filed this session to prevent cities and counties from enacting new progressive policies. For example, the bill would block local ordinances designed to provide more benefits to workers such as mandatory paid sick leave — though the state’s courts have already halted such city rules — and eliminate mandated water breaks for construction workers in Austin and Dallas, according to the Texas Tribune.

“While we acknowledge the need for statewide regulation, we feel it is crucial to find a balance that preserves the rights of local governments,” France said in the Facebook post. “The proposed TX HB2127 has the potential to overstep this balance, consequently diminishing the role of local authorities. It is our responsibility to advocate for the well-being of our community and maintain the qualities that make Flower Mound the #1 Town in Texas.”

The bill would give the state more power in regulating a broad spectrum of areas, aiming to give business owners “the peace of mind that they can grow their companies safely,” said Kronda Thimesch, a freshman representative of House District 65, which includes a swath of southern Denton County including Lewisville, Flower Mound, Lantana, Argyle and Northlake.

“It’s especially crucial here in DFW, where you could drive just a couple of miles down Sam Rayburn Tollway yet go through three different counties and five different city boundaries,” Thimesch said in a statement. “We need to support small businesses and job creators — and that means keeping honest hard-working people from accidentally breaking a law because of wildly differing local standards.”

But France is confident that Flower Mound knows what’s best for Flower Mound.

“The average resident, especially in Flower Mound, should care about this bill because the folks in Austin are trying to over-regulate the local community,” France said. “Why do you think that, in the town of Flower Mound, we need your help regulating our town? We can do that ourselves. The whole entire council agrees, this bill is atrocious. All six council members are on fire about this, and we don’t always agree on everything.”

France joined dozens of other North Texas mayors — including Dan Jaworski of Highland Village, Gerard Hudspeth of Denton and Scooter Gierisch of Roanoke — in co-authoring a recent column in the Dallas Morning News that pushed back against HB 2127.

“State regulations cannot possibly account for the extreme divergences among our state’s regions,” the column said. “Therefore, decisions regarding city services, including everything as large as public safety, animal control, and parking ordinances down to weed control and water restrictions in neighborhoods, should be left to local leaders and not dictated by the state.

“Unfortunately, this legislation, as currently written, intends to paint all cities with one brush,” the column said.

HB 2127 is currently being debated in the State House, and if approved, would need to be passed by the State Senate. Thimesch said she has communicated with local mayors and councils and has brought many of their concerns to the bill’s author, Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock. She also filed a floor amendment that would ensure the bill doesn’t interfere with some enforcement legislation.

France urged residents to voice their concerns about the bill to their local elected state representatives.

Click here to see the bill.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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