San Antonio officials applauded a judge’s decision to declare as unconstitutional House Bill 2127, the so-called “Death Star” bill that Texas state lawmakers approved earlier in 2023 as a means to rein in what legislators called burdensome or conflicting local regulations or ordinances.

What happened

On Aug. 30, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of the 459th District Court in Travis County ruled HB 2127 unconstitutional.

HB 2127, which became effective Sept. 1, would limit cities and counties' ability to propose and fully enforce regulations in eight major areas of government without first getting approval from the Texas Legislature. These areas include agriculture, finance, insurance, labor, natural resources, property, business and commerce, and occupations.

San Antonio, joined by Houston and El Paso, and supported by dozens of Texas cities, sued the state of Texas to declare the statute unconstitutional because it attempted to do away with home-rule cities which were created by the Texas constitution, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.

What they're saying

City officials said the judge's ruling does not keep HB 2127 from going into effect, but that it guides Texas cities who may seek to counter any further attempts by the state to limit local control.

“This is a win for democracy. The ruling is a critical step toward ensuring Texas cities and their respective residents maintain their ability to govern themselves,” Nirenberg said in a statement. “I’m encouraged by today’s decision and thank Houston and El Paso for their partnership. I’m additionally grateful for the supportive statements from Waco, Plano, Denton, and Arlington.”

Nirenberg said he felt state leaders are seeking to keep up efforts toward reducing local control especially in larger Texas cities.

“The governor and state legislature will undoubtedly continue their attempts to thwart local control, but San Antonio will stay vigilant in its fight to protect the voice and power of our residents. I also want to express gratitude for the members of our state delegation who supported local self-governance,” Nirenberg added.

City Attorney Andy Segovia said San Antonio’s local elected officials best represent their constituents.

“The unconstitutionally vague language in House Bill 2127 sought to strip the power of self-government from home-rule cities and made it impossible to understand which specific city ordinances may conflict with state statutes,” Segovia said in a statement. "The ruling is a victory for San Antonio and all cities across the state of Texas.”