A bill that passed in the 88th Legislature and intends to put more control on cities doesn’t fly with Flower Mound Town Manager James Childers.

But Flower Mound’s state representative who voted for the bill defended what the bill will try to accomplish.

The details

Childers criticized House Bill 2127, dubbed by critics as the “Death Star bill,” which Childers characterized as “lazy” legislation. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in June and becomes effective Sept. 1.

“The legislation was literally written so courts can sort it out,” Childers said. “That’s not how you govern.”

Rep. Ben Bumgarner, R-Flower Mound, said he voted for HB 2127 to ensure citizens and businesses will not be met with overburdensome regulations by just crossing a city line.

“This bill will ensure that all businesses and Texans will have the same ‘playing field’ in all municipalities in our state,” he said in an email.

He added some cities have “pushed well past their authority, including implementing policies that violate state law.”

“This bill will get everyone back in line with our state constitution,” Bumgarner said. “I’ve heard from many locals that the state has no authority to do ‘xyz’ or that the state is overreaching when it is in fact the municipalities that have overreached and are levying too many burdensome and restrictive policies that are clearly not in line with our state constitution and what home rule municipalities can and cannot do. State law supersedes local authority.”

Bumgarner said, though, based on his time on Flower Mound Town Council, he is confident that the municipalities in District 63 are not violating state law. He was assured many times by town staff that they update their policies to always get in line with state law. He added if lawmakers find that there are aspects of the bill that need to be modified, the Legislature will have the opportunity to tweak the language during the next regular legislative session, which will be in 2025.

The background

Childers called the legislation “very nebulous,” and when cities receive legislation such as this, they are confused about how it’s going to be applied.

“Unfortunately, our lawmakers didn’t listen to our concerns, and now we’re starting to see the fallout from that,” he said.

He pointed out how the city of Houston filed a lawsuit against the state for the bill.

The bill, Childers said, zeroes in on certain parts of the state code and supersedes municipalities' ability to enforce those particular areas. The bill itself said it relates to “state preemption of and the effect of certain state or federal municipal and county regulation.”

“The breadth of the law is so wide, we don’t know what it does and doesn’t do,” Childers said.

He said town officials shared concerns with the delegation of lawmakers from the Flower Mound area. He said it would be “wonderful” if lawmakers in Austin sat down with mayors and other city officials and discuss the bill.

“Because at the end of the day, they have a role, and they can certainly govern as they see fit,” Childers said. “It would just be great if there was more communication and coordination.”

Bumgarner said he has talked with his district’s city and town managers, mayors, and council members about this bill “at length” and that he looks forward to “continuing working with them to ensure our community continues to thrive and serves as the gold standard for the rest of the State of Texas.”

Also of note

Childers added there were more bills that would have been detrimental to Flower Mound but didn’t make it out of committee or were not signed into law. He said the challenge in 2025 is when some of those bills surface again, such as those involving accessory dwelling units that would eliminate single-family zoning, which allows someone could build another structure on a lot.

“Those are things that are just going to change the fabric of the community, in particular on Cross Timbers [Road],” he said, referring to the roadway in town. “We worked very hard with our delegation to get our views out here, but by and large, and I’m not afraid to say this on record, our Legislature has just been eroding the sovereignty of cities for the last three sessions.”

He said he appreciates the leadership and voices of Flower Mound Town Council toward what is occurring in Austin.

Quote of note

“Less government is a good thing and our founding fathers were all about letting the people have as much personal control as possible,” Bumgarner said. “Somewhere along the way locals thought it was a good idea to usurp that idea and fill in the gaps with the idea that Texans can’t live without government intervention. It's time we give power back to the people.”