In 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott warned Texas was on its way to becoming more like its West Coast large state counterpart with the adoption of city-level ordinances that restricted individual actions.
“The truth is Texas is being California-ized and you may not even be noticing it,” said Abbott just prior to the start of the 2015 legislative session. “It’s being done at the city level with bag bans, fracking bans, tree-cutting bans. We’re forming a patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations that is eroding the Texas model.”
In 2015, when an FBI report revealed Texas had fallen behind California in annual gun sales, Abbott said he was "embarrassed."
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 28, 2015
On Memorial Day this past year, Abbott signed House Bill 100 into law, which overrides local regulations on ride-hailing companies throughout the state, including regulations the city of Austin imposed that requires the fingerprinting of drivers. Austin voters approved these regulations in May 2016.
Abbott blamed the city of Austin for the restrictions imposed on companies, such as Uber and Lyft, and warned again of the "Californication" of Texas.
“As your governor, I will not allow Austin, Texas, to California-ize the Lone Star State,” Abbott said.
When calling a special session this past June, Abbott compared the ambitions of local representatives in Austin to the ambitions of those in California.
“I can tell you that today, Austin is more free than it was before the legislative session began because the state of Texas passed laws that overrode the liberal agenda of Austin, Texas, that is trying to send Texas down the pathway of California,” he said at the time.
After all of this, California has taken its own shot at Texas, banning state-funded travel on Thursday.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra cited the Texas Legislature's passage of House Bill 3859 as the reason Texas was added to the list of eight states with this particular ban.
"HB 3859 allows foster care agencies to discriminate against children in foster care and potentially disqualify LGBT families from the state’s foster and adoption system," he said in a statement Thursday.
The bill, authored by state Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, allows faith-based adoption organizations to refuse services to children or parents on religious grounds. If an organization does this, they must make a reference to a different organization.
Since Becerra's decision Thursday, lawmakers have responded without much anger but rather scarcely concealed contempt.
State Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, who sponsored legislation during the regular session to ban state-sponsored travel to California, is calling for the governor to add his legislation to the special session call.
"Today, the California Legislature prohibited the expenditure of its state funds for state employee travel to Texas because of our morals and ethics," he said. "Months ago, I offered an amendment to the Texas state budget to counter this type of nonsense—my amendment would have reciprocated if another state did this very thing. Texans are the most inclusive, welcoming people in the world—what Texans will not do is allow another state to determine our policy and culture."
I hope @GregAbbott_TX will let us reciprocate during the special session.
— Dustin Burrows (@Burrows4TX) June 23, 2017
Gov. Abbott spokesperson John Wittman said California's ban would not stop businesses fleeing regulation and taxation from relocation to Texas, per Texas Tribune reports.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton followed up Wittman's statement today with a press release that cited a several months old Texas Relocation Report by the Texas Association of Realtors that said the majority of domestic immigration to Texas came from California.
Paxton's statement reported that 65,546 Californians came to Texas in 2015.
"I talk to people almost every day who made the trek from California to Texas, and without fail, they tell me their move is due to either greater job opportunities, much lower-priced housing, an escape from a left-coast political climate, or just a better quality of culture and life," Paxton said.
According to the most recent state demographer's report, California is the leader in receiving and sending individuals to and from Texas in domestic migration. Most recent estimates have California losing 62,386 residents to Texas and Texas losing 31,499 residents to California in 2013.