Nov 17, 2022 - News

Austin-bashing commences at the Texas Legislature

Illustration of the Texas State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

A suburban Dallas lawmaker wants to cordon off Austin as a stand-alone district under the thumb of the Texas Legislature.

Driving the news: State lawmakers started filing bills for next year's legislative session this week.

  • Lawmakers eager to show their conservative bona fides have begun filing so-called Austin-bashing bills that aim to limit the clout of the liberal-minded local government.

Reality check: The proposal by Republican state Rep. Jared Patterson is highly unlikely to make it into state law — or even get a hearing on the House floor — but, in the past, local measures limiting tree removal or offering safe harbor to undocumented people have been overturned by the Legislature.

  • Context: Texas lawmakers convene in Austin once every couple years — special sessions notwithstanding — from January through roughly late May, and the capital city is often described by crusading conservatives as a den of iniquity.

What they're saying: "Elected officials in Austin have failed their city," Patterson, who has also been on the vanguard of book-banning proposals, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. "Record high taxes and crime are pushing folks out of the city, and their San Francisco wannabe policies force the state to come over the top on legislation each session."

Details: Patterson's proposal calls for Austin to be governed by overseers "provided by the Legislature" and says the Legislature "may enact local laws to govern" its operation.

  • Of note: In 2019, state Rep. Briscoe Cain tweeted, "It's past time that the #txlege abolish the City of Austin and make it a capital district like that of D.C. (residents retain state lege districts; Lege gets supreme authority over mayor and council)."

The bottom line: 'Tis the season for Austin attacks at the Texas Legislature.


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