August 30, 2023 -- Today, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of the 459th District Court in Travis County declared House Bill 2127, the so-called super-preemption bill, unconstitutional.
Houston, joined by San Antonio and El Paso and supported by dozens of large and small Texas cities, had sued the State of Texas to declare the statute unconstitutional because it was too vague for cities to enforce it, too lacking in standards to ask a court to enforce it, and too contrary to the Texas Constitution’s grant of “the full power of self-government” to home rule cities to survive constitutional scrutiny. Although the Court did not rule on all of the claims Houston raised, the Court primarily focused on HB 2127’s vagueness.
HB 2127 was scheduled to go into effect on September 1. The bill would have preempted or rendered void and unenforceable not just existing but future local ordinances that protect workers and consumers against payday lenders and labor abuses, among other things. Worse, the bill targeted local control and government and sought to require Houston city government to seek permission from the State Legislature, which only meets every other year, to provide important and expected services and protections to Houstonians, such as protecting Houstonians from eviction after their home floods in a hurricane. Without state permission, Houston City government simply could not act and could be sued for doing so.
Please attribute the following statement to Mayor Sylvester Turner:
"I am thrilled that Houston, our legal department, and sister cities were able to obtain this victory for Texas cities. HB 2127 was a power grab by the Legislature and an unwarranted and unconstitutional intrusion into local power granted to Houston and other home-rule cities by the Texas Constitution. HB 2127 was intended to mire large cities like Houston in endless litigation at taxpayer expense as cities and businesses struggle to discern what HB 2127 meant. As a former legislator, I am appalled by this assault on federalism and Texas cities.
"Home-rule cities like Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso have long been the drivers of the State’s vibrant economy. The Governor’s and Legislature’s ongoing war on such home-rule cities hurts the State and its economy, discourages new transplants from other states, and thwarts the will of Texas voters who endowed these cities in the Texas Constitution with full rights to self-government and local innovation. This self-defeating war on cities needs to end.
While Houston realizes our battle with the State is not over, I will do all I can during my remaining term to ensure that Houstonians govern Houstonians. I hope my successor will do the same."