Houston Chronicle & San Antonio Express News
By Peggy Fikac
AUSTIN — Gov.-elect Greg Abbott on Thursday took aim at local regulations affecting tree cutting, plastic bags and fracking, saying that they are contrary to his vision for the state.
“Texas is being California-ized and you may not even be noticing it,” Abbott told the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an organization in favor of limited government.
“This is being done at the city level with bag bans, fracking bans, tree-cutting bans. We’re forming a patchwork quilt of bans and rules nd regulations that is eroding the Texas model.”
Abbott took particular aim at tree-cutting measures, saying they amount to "collectivism." Numerous Texas cities, including Houston and San Antonio, have tree ordinances.
"Now think about it — few things are more important in Texas than private property rights. Yet some cities are telling citizens that you don’t own some of the things on your own property that you have bought and purchased and owned for a long time. Things like trees. This is a form of collectivism," Abbott said.
"Some cities claim that the trees on private property belong to the community, not to the private property owner. Large cities that represent about 75 percent of the population in this state are doing this to us," Abbott said, and referring to the organizations’ name, added, "Unchecked overregulation by cities will turn the Texas miracle into the California nightmare faster than you can spell TPPF."
Besides tree-cutting regulations in various cities, Denton voters approved a fracking ban that is being challenged by the oil and gas industry and the state.
Austin, Laredo and South Padre Island have plastic-bag bans, and Dallas has imposed a 5-cent environmental fee on paper and plastic sacks to be collected by retailers.
Legislative efforts in the past to infringe on cities’ rule-making authority have met with pushback from those citing the need for local control.
"My vision is one where individual liberties are not bound by city limit signs," Abbott said. "I will insist on protecting unlimited liberty to ensure that Texas will continue to grow and prosper.”
Read more about Abbott’s comments and local reaction at ExpressNews.com and in Friday’s edition of the Express-News.