Small businesses in Texas will benefit from a bill that addresses regulatory consistency


Regardless of which 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 hard-working families. Unfortunately, unless we act to maintain nationwide regulatory consistency affecting the businesses that employ so many Texans, our status as the nation’s leading job generator will not last much longer.

Unless you’re a small business owner yourself, you may not be aware of the mounting obstacles to meaningful growth that are emerging in cities across our state. They generally arise from local governments making the financially and legally dubious decision to create their own version of Texas legislature and the constellation of state agencies to implement and enforce the laws we pass.

A deeper investigation into the cause of this misguided duplication reveals mostly the influence of small but very vocal factions of activists who have realized their wild agendas will not get an inch of support from the Texas legislature. So they have shifted their efforts to the local level, where governing bodies may not be able to scrutinize their destructive ideas thoroughly or stop them as common sense would dictate.

These supposedly well-intentioned efforts tend to focus on protecting the environment and unions well beyond those that already exist and are skillfully enforced by agencies like the Railroad Commission, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and Workforce Commission . Who can blame city government leaders for wanting to avoid being called hard-hearted by these wily and vocal political groups in public or on social media? Well, you can start with small business owners whose necessarily tight margins are being eaten up by the costs associated with tracking and complying with various regulatory bodies in almost every Texas city where they operate.

Take the city of Houston, for example, where seemingly endless layers of unionized local regulations essentially oblige small businesses to hire a compliance officer to help them navigate the maze of local regulations that conflict with standards in other parts of the world states are in conflict. If they don’t, and break a local rule, they face a barrage of fines that can lead to closure.

When you factor in Dallas’ efforts to ban gas lawn mowers, Austin’s sick leave requirements, and Denton’s short-lived attempt to ban fracking, and the challenges of building businesses with statewide jobs, they just become too complex. At the same time, each of these structures means more compliance work for companies while increasing the size and complexity of local governments. These are not good outcomes for recruiters and the people who rely on them.

A councilman or mayor may think they are scoring political points by passing an ordinance that violates state law, but in reality they are only undermining the intentions of the people they serve.

That’s why I introduced House Bill 2127, the Texas Regulatory Consistency Act, which essentially directs local governments to refrain from regulating things that are already dealt with at the state level. This bill provides the regulatory stability and security that will allow business owners to more consistently expand their businesses to other Texas cities, creating more jobs and wealth in the process. At the same time, it actually helps local governments by giving them a simple reason why they won’t actually vote on the myriad of issues that activists have bullied them into passing locally. This not only saves money in local government budgets, but gives them back some measure and freedom to focus on traditional local issues that they are equipped to tackle, such as sewerage, garbage collection and safe roads.

Meanwhile, this bill also positions Texas to benefit from resurgent US manufacturing growth as the “onshoring” trend sees companies flee geopolitical enemies like China and back onto US soil move. As this opportunity grows larger, why would a company bother building multiple factories in multiple cities when the complexity of differing regulations promises to fill their stores with inspectors and empty their wallets with fines and fees. A national standard is much better.

So if you’re not ready for Austin to look more like Portland and Dallas to resemble San Francisco with its patchwork of job-killing regulations and take no responsibility for the advocates of such stupidity, let your elected officials know you need their support on the issue. Passing HB 2127 is a big step towards preserving Texas jobs.

Dustin Burrows is the state representative for District 83 in Lubbock. He wrote this column for the Dallas Morning News.

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