No matter what side of the political aisle they call home, most Texans share a general enthusiasm for our state’s remarkable ability to create and sustain jobs for hardworking families. Unfortunately, if we don’t act to maintain statewide consistency in the regulations that affect the companies that employ so many Texans, our status as the nation’s leading job creator won’t last much longer.
If you’re not a small business owner yourself, you may not be aware of the growing impediments to meaningful growth that are popping up in cities across our state. They generally arise from municipal governments making the financially and legally dubious choice to create their own version of the Texas Legislature and the constellation of state agencies that implement and enforce the laws we pass.
A deeper dig into the cause for this misguided duplication most often reveals the influence of small but very vocal activist factions who have realized their wild-eyed agendas won’t get an inch of traction with the Texas Legislature. So they have shifted their efforts to the local level where governing bodies aren’t necessarily equipped to thoroughly vet their destructive ideas or stop them in their tracks as common sense would dictate.
These purportedly well-intentioned efforts tend to focus on protections for the environment and unions that far exceed those that are already in place and ably enforced by agencies like the Railroad Commission, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Workforce Commission. Who can blame city government leaders for wanting to avoid being called hard-hearted in public or social media by these crafty and noisy political groups? Well, you can start with small business owners whose necessarily tight margins get eaten alive by the costs associated with tracking and complying with different sets of rules in nearly every Texas city they serve.
Take, for example, the city of Houston, where seemingly endless layers of union-authored local rules essentially require small businesses to retain a compliance officer to help them navigate the maze of local rules that conflict with standards elsewhere in the state. If they don’t and end up breaking a local rule, they end up facing a flurry of fines that could lead to closure.
Throw in the Dallas efforts to ban gas lawnmowers, Austin’s sick leave requirements and Denton’s short-lived attempt to ban fracking and the challenges of building businesses with jobs spanning the state simply become too complex. At the same time, each of these structures creates more compliance work for companies while it actually increases the size and complexity of local government. These are not good outcomes for job creators and the people who rely on them.
A city council or mayor might think they’re scoring political points by passing an ordinance that runs contrary to state law, but they’re actually just undermining the intentions of the people they serve.
That is why I have filed House Bill 2127, the Texas Regulatory Consistency Act, which essentially directs local governments to forgo regulating things that are already handled at the state level. This bill provides the regulatory stability and certainty that enables business owners to expand their businesses to other cities within Texas with more consistency, creating more jobs and prosperity in the process. At the same time, it actually gives local governments a hand by giving them a simple reason why they won’t, in fact, be bringing to a vote the countless issues that activists have been harassing them to pass locally. This not only saves money in the budgets of local governments, but also gives them back a measure along with the freedom to focus on traditional local issues they’re equipped to handle like sewers, trash collection and safe streets.
In the meantime, this bill also positions Texas to capitalize on the rebounding growth of stateside manufacturing as the “onshoring” trend causes businesses to move away from geopolitical hostiles like China and back to U.S. soil. As that opportunity looms larger, why would any one company go to the trouble of building multiple factories in multiple towns when the complexities of disparate rules promise to fill their shops with inspectors and drain their wallet with fines and fees. A statewide standard is far better.
So, if you’re not ready for Austin to look more like Portland and Dallas to resemble San Francisco with their patchwork of job-killing ordinances and zero accountability for the champions of such foolishness, let your elected representatives know you need their support on this issue. Passing HB 2127 is a great step toward keeping the jobs coming to Texas.