The 84th Texas Legislature is Sending You A Clear Message
It is very apparent the 84th Texas Legislature is sending everyone a clear message. The Texas Legislature does not care about the average citizen in Texas. The only interest the Legislature has is making sure that businesses are not burdened with any regulations.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick was so worried that business didn't have enough access to the Legislative process that he put a 55 member business Advisory board in place. They meet in private, brief legislature members on the impact bills have, and educate lawmakers about legislation. The board consists of wealthy businessmen and will offer "insight" on areas that impact their business, because wealthy and successful means they know what is best. According to the Lt Governor these people help to elect a lawmaker, but then "there's no follow-up". (Lt. Gov.-Elect Taps Business Leaders for New Advisory Board) Evidently, the past 7 years in the Senate did not teach the Lt. Governor how lobbying works and the mechanics of wealth on lobbying.
Governor Greg Abbot was very clear about the ability for communities to have a say in what happens in their communities. He warned about the "California-ized" rules of cities. Governor Abbot said that a patchwork of rules like the ban on plastic bags in Dallas or Denton's ban on Fracking would impact the state's economic growth. It would seem local rule that has been touted by the Legislature only applies when the conversation is about states rights, not communities' rights.
Take for example the Denton Fracking Bill. The House approved it on Friday (Texas House Approves "Denton Fracking Bill) The bill addresses the concerns that the ban would keep oil companies from drilling whenever and wherever they want. Although the city of Denton asserts they know best what they need, seeing as they are in Denton. The State says that one size fits all and limits local community control to certain areas like "fire and emergency response, traffic, lights and noise – but only if such rules were commercially reasonable.” What is commercially reasonable? Lawsuits will have to be filed to determine that one and in the mean time, it is unlikely that very business friendly courts are going to issue injunctions to stop activity until this can be sorted out. Once again, communities went out and voted. They said exactly what they wanted and the Legislature said while the economic impact would be most widely felt in your community, we know best.
Here's another gem. SB 709. This bill flew through the Senate Thursday with less discussion than the Denton Fracking Bill (Bills limiting residents' input mess with Texas) With only a few taking notice of a bill that supposedly addresses a court decision that isn't even final yet. In the SB 709 citizens would not have an opportunity to address permits that negatively affect them. The Texas Sierra Club explains it best:
STATEMENT: TEXAS SENATE PASSES SB 709, TAKES MORE INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AWAY
Submitted by Matt Johnson on April 17, 2015 - 11:26am
Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 709, a bill designed to make it more difficult for citizens to contest permit applications at the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ), on a 22-9 vote. The bill’s author, Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), claimed that the intent of the bill is to align state statute with a recent Third Court of Appeals decision related to how and when citizens can get a hearing before an administrative law judge if that citizen believes the permit would affect them negatively.
A group of Senators, including Sens. Watson (D-Austin), West (D-Dallas), and Garcia (D-Houston) raised concerns that 1) the bill did not match the language of the court ruling, 2) the court ruling was not final because the Texas Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to take it up, 3) that it would fundamentally impede individual rights and further align the TCEQ with business interests rather than the public, and 4) citizens do not have enough opportunity as is to learn about permit applications that may affect them.
The court case in question involves the Sierra Club and TCEQ, and the Sierra Club is actively pursuing an appeal at the Texas Supreme Court.
In response to the bill’s passage, Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, issued the following statement.
“The ease with which this bill passed the Senate should scare everyone. Senators who are financially backed by big corporations seem to have carte blanche to strip away individual rights and strengthen corporations this session.
Texans need to be able to seek recourse to a pollution permit that may affect them, their families, and livelihoods, and one of the only remaining spaces to do that is at the State Office of Administrative Hearings. This bill would make it harder for people to be heard. I urge everyone who cares about their rights to call their State Representative and tell them to stop this bill from becoming law.”
What can you do? Call your State Senator or Representative! Write them! Send an email! Let them know that we are in our communities and understand what economic development is needed and supported. We also see on a daily basis how their activities like noise, traffic, and waste affect us. Let them know that the people impacted should get a say in what happens in their community!
Don't know how to get in touch with your Representative or Senator? Go Here..