Texas lawmakers propose Constitutional amendment to shield cities from unfunded mandates

In a legislative session riddled with calls of preemption and attacks on local control, lawmakers are sticking up for cities against the reach of state power.

Rep. DeWayne Burns, R-Cleburne, has drafted an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would prohibit Texas laws passed after Jan. 1, 2018, from taking effect if they were implemented through an unfunded mandate on a municipality or county.

If the law came with funds from the state or another source outside the jurisdiction, it would be acceptable. Without funds, the laws would be unconstitutional.

Burns said the burden is on the cities and counties within state courts to prove that the Legislature passed an unfunded mandate.

"We have to look at what we are requiring counties and cities to do and whether or not we are properly funding them," Burns said.

To fully implement the amendment, voters would first have to give their seal of approval in a ballot proposition in November.

Supporters of the amendment say cities are overburdened already with quickly increasing local taxes, and cannot take on additional mandates from Austin.

Opponents worry that this would have a negative effect on citizens who need services from a city or county but are not getting them without state action.

The final vote on Wednesday afternoon tallied at 95 in favor and 38 against. As a proposed Texas Constitutional amendment, the bill must gain approval from 100 House members.

Officials from Burns' office said the bill will be taken up Thursday again in hopes of passing with 100 votes.


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