Combating the California-zation of Texas
In his his keynote address at Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 13th annual Policy Orientation, then-Governor-elect Greg Abbott highlighted the problem of unchecked local regulation:
“The truth is, Texas is being California-ized with bag bans, fracking bans, [and] tree-cutting bans. We are forming a patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that are eroding the Texas Model. Some cities are telling citizens you don’t own some of the things on your property that you have purchased and owned for a long time, things like trees. This is a form of collectivism.”
And, of course, he’s right.Read more
More and more municipalities are passing nanny state restrictions and regulations that infringe upon Texans’ personal freedoms, property rights, and livelihood. Indeed, there seems to be no nook or cranny too small to escape the growing regulatory reach of Texas’ local governments.
The glut of new rules and restraints run the gamut from the types of businesses allowed within city limits to the kind of bags a person can use at the grocery store to the things a person can and cannot do in the privacy of their own vehicle.
More often than not, the justification given for these intrusions hinges on “local control,” or the state-afforded authority granted to communities to govern certain policy areas. Local governments know best how to solve their problems, or so the thinking goes.
But where this rationale frequently goes off the rails is in its emphasis of local control over other, more important governing principles, such as liberty.
Liberty, not local control, is the overriding principle that should inform and direct our public policymakers. For without liberty, local control simply becomes a means toward the end of local tyranny.
It is through the lens of liberty that Texas’ elected officials ought to be crafting public policies so as to protect and promote those inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To the extent that a law or regulation violates these core values, it should be immediately suspect.