2017 Special Session

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How Can I Get Involved?

Local Governments Under Attack
by Mayor Rudy Durham
July 21, 2017

Gov. Greg Abbott has called the Texas Legislature into special session that started this week. The agenda set by the governor include multiple items that directly attack the ability of individual cities to operate, a truth verified by the governor’s own provocative words on multiple occasions.

It’s almost as if our state officials believe they own all the good ideas, and want all Texas cities and towns to look, feel, and operate the same as every other Texas city. I think we all know that what is good for some other Texas city might not be good for Lewisville, which is exactly why the Texas Constitution grants significant rule-making authority to local cities.

That authority is being threatened. Measures that will be debated by the Legislature include bills that would:

  • set an arbitrary and artificial cap on city spending, which would hinder or eliminate the chance to add new facilities and programs or to increase compensation for police officers, firefighters, and other employees. This could mean limited operations at the new multi-generational recreation center that was identified as a critical need in the Lewisville 2025 vision plan, and approved by Lewisville voters.
  • make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Lewisville to expand its borders and complete the long-planned Castle Hills annexation. If cities are not able to expand their borders, the economic base stagnates and all stakeholders lose. People living on the unincorporated fringes will be able to enjoy many of the city’s quality-of-life amenities at no cost while taxpaying residents of the city foot the bill.
  • create a massive loophole in development regulations that would exempt property owners from any requirements adopted after a piece of land is purchased, no matter how long ago that was. This could prevent the city from enforcing reasonable codes that significantly improve public safety and promote quality development, which in turn could allow some highly undesirable uses to be built in totally inappropriate locations.
  • limit or eliminate the city’s tree ordinance, which in turn could result in clear-cutting of heavily treed lots even when no development plans are in place. Lewisville’s tree ordinance has not prevented a single development from being completed, and has resulted in better developments while protecting your property value.

Some members of the Legislature like to talk about “voter choice” and claim that voters should have the final say at the ballot box. They try to work that into their most harmful bills. Don’t fall for the rhetoric. These same Legislators have approved bills in Austin specifically designed to overturn results of local elections with which they disagreed. Denton residents voted to block fracking in their city; overturned by the Legislature. Austin residents voted to require better background checks for ride-share drivers; overturned by the Legislature.

Talk about “voter choice” is a smoke screen designed to conceal the true motive of enforcing their own political views on all Texans, giving more power to the statehouse and striping power away from city halls and county courthouses. If you don’t think political power is at the core of these bills, their smoke screen is working. The ultimate result of these types of re-emption bills would be elected city councils that are forced to act in the best interest of legislators instead of in the best interest of local residents.

Why would state officials want to push local elections to November? Because they believe the partisan voters who put them into office will block city efforts to generate revenue, expand borders, or adopt regulations. It is not about what is best for cities – it is an attempt to spread their own partisan politics.

The governor and some members of the Legislature seem to view cities as the enemy, and themselves as champions of the people. And yet, it is local cities that provide the majority of services benefitting Texans across the state, something they do while receiving virtually no money from the state. In recent years, cities also have had to help pay for projects that should be completed by the state but are not properly funded by the Legislature, such as highway construction and maintenance.

Cities continue to be the engine that drives the Texas economy. The vast majority of new jobs coming to Texas are coming because of the work of cities, not because of state office holders.

City halls are the hallmark of locally controlled democracy at work. City government is closest to the people being served because elected city officials are right here in the community, listening to residents in public meetings and grocery stores and church pews, responding to the expressed needs of residents and held directly accountable if those needs are not met. Your city council members do not answer to a controlling political party. We do not answer directly to the governor. We answer directly to you – our neighbors, friends, and family living right here in Lewisville.

State officials are elected to run the statehouse, to set and implement a budget that includes proper funding for public education and public highways. Both of those programs are badly under-funded. Do you really want those same state officials to start setting local priorities for your neighborhood?

Be skeptical. Be aware. And most of all, be active.

Rudy Durham is a lifelong Lewisville resident and a graduate of Lewisville High School and North Texas State University. He first was elected to City Council in 1994 and has served as mayor since 2015. He is a Registered Professional Appraisal and Real Estate Broker. He also is a member of the Regional Transportation Council through the North Central Texas Council of Governments.


How Can I Get Involved?

The best way to get involved in Legislative issues is to contact your elected representatives and let them know where you stand on such topics as preserving local control. Parts of Lewisville are served by one of three Texas House members and one of two Texas Senate members. If you are unsure of your representatives visit the Who Represents Me website.

The website for the Texas Legislature offers other tips for contacting your elected representatives posted.

Legislators representing parts of Lewisville are:

elected official
capital office/address
capitol phone number
District address
district phone number
State Rep. Ron Simmons
(most Denton County parts
of Lewisville) 
EXT E2.608
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768 
 512.463.0478
1029 W. Rosemeade Pkwy., Suite 108
Carrollton, TX 75007  
972.492.2080 
State Rep. Tan Parker
(southwest Denton County) 
CAP 4S.2
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
 512.463.0688 800 Parker Square, Ste. 245
Flower Mound, TX 75028
 972.724.8477
State Rep. Matt Rinaldi
(Dallas County) 
EXT E2.508
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768 
512.463.0468 12300 Ford Rd., Suite B348
Dallas, TX 75234
972.247.8973
State Sen. Jane Nelson
(Denton County) 
P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
512.463.0112
1225 S. Main St., Suite 100
Grapevine, TX 76051
817.424.3446
State Sen. Don Huffines
(Dallas County) 
EXT E1.608
P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
512.463.0116 8222 Douglas Avenue, Suite 675
Dallas, TX 75225
214.239.6131