The mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth went to Austin Tuesday to meet with Gov. Greg Abbott in a push to maintain local control.
The mayors oppose portions of Abbott’s agenda for the current special session of the Texas Legislature.
From taxes to trees, the mayors claim the proposed state laws would hamper their ability to run their cities.
One new state law would forbid cities from regulating trees on private property. Both Dallas and Fort Worth have tree preservation ordinances.
However, with Abbott Tuesday, the mayors steered clear of trees, focusing instead on other issues where they hoped to find common ground.
“There is no question that we disagree on a lot of things, but leadership is about trying to get a line around the things you can agree on,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.
On taxes, a proposed state law would lower the amount of property tax revenue cities can collect from rising property values before triggering the option of a voter election to roll back rates.
“I think it’s a bad bill, but I think it can be edited and amended in such a way that it’s more palatable for us, and hopefully that’s what going to happen in the House,” Rawlings said.
The governor declined to speak with reporters after the meeting Tuesday, but Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said it went well and Abbott seemed receptive.
“We talked a lot about our region, a whole lot about education, touched on a couple of the other bills that concerned us, and he’s listening,” Price said.
Rawlings said there was a cooperative discussion about job creation and early childhood education.
“I was very pleased that the governor spoke with great passion about what we’re doing in Southern Dallas and our need to deal with poverty,” Rawlings said.
The Texas Senate has already approved much of the governor’s special session agenda, including the restrictions on regulation of trees, city and county property tax rollback and the so-called "bathroom bill" that would restrict transgender Texans to the restroom of their birth gender.
The Texas House is still considering most of the governor’s requests. Price and Rawlings said their cities are also lobbying members of the Texas House.
“We’re elected officials. We answer to the same constituents and we’re trying to let them know what we’re hearing from our constituents,” Price said.
Rawlings and Price were among 18 Texas mayors who signed a July 20 letter seeking the opportunity to share their concerns about the special session agenda with Abbott.
Nine of the mayors have now had meetings. The governor’s office has four more mayors scheduled Wednesday, including the leaders of Irving, Frisco and McKinney.