By Sydney Murphy
Polk County Judge
Senate Bill 175 prohibits cities and political subdivisions from using taxpayer funds to hire lobbyists, which includes all 254 Texas counties and a massive number of cities and political subdivisions. This legislation sounds good on paper, but in practice banning lobbying by local government entities will place all the power in Austin. Texas cities, counties and political subdivisions along with their respective organizations will be banned from the hallways of the Texas Legislature.
This will eliminate any input or communication during the legislature with regard to bills that would negatively impact our communities. Quite often the impact is severe and the only way to mitigate the damage to Texas residents and communities is through lobbying and through information provided by the individual associations. This is not the first time that this type of bill has been introduced to the Texas Legislature and is being floated before the voters as a positive change. It was introduced by Sen. Mayes Middleton, and has the support of Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dan Phelan. Lawmakers need to reject it without further consideration!
Supporters of the bill claim that it hurts taxpayers and is an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars. However, the State of Texas utilizes those same taxpayers’ dollars to lobby in Washington – to protect Texas. Local elected officials work closely with their constituents and better understand the needs of their communities. They are more qualified to provide accurate information and take a stand for the issues that directly affect their constituents and provide solutions that work at the local level – in the same way that Texas legislators better understand Texas as opposed to Washington.
SB 175 will silence Texas cities and counties but allow corporate lobbyists and special interests complete access to the Texas Legislature. Shouldn’t the people of Texas as a whole have complete access as opposed to special interests? The legislature needs to evaluate lobbying in the legislature, but not move forward with trying to silence local government. To represent the interests of Texans, every city and county has a duty to stand for the issues that affect their constituents and other Texas residents. Texans should not be silenced by their own state legislature.