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Alabama must redraw its Congressional maps, CNN reports a former official told the feds Trump knew the process for declassifying documents, and Canadian wildfires affect the health of humans and wildlife.

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The Supreme Court upholds a key provision of the Voting Rights Act over Alabama redistricting, smoky skies could spell EPA trouble for some states, and President Biden calls on Congress to pass LGBTQ+ protections.

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Rural communities launch projects with funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a study says rural transgender adults feel less supported than those in urban areas, and a summer road trip could mean majestic scenic byways or a sprinkling of donut shops.

TX Lawmakers Consider Legislation to Prevent Cities from Self-Governance

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Tuesday, March 21, 2023   

Texas' GOP-dominated legislature is considering bills to flip the script on powers traditionally afforded home-rule cities, instead forcing them to abide by state regulations. Two bills have been introduced this session to curb local laws governing safety, the environment and discrimination.

Rick Levy, president of the AFL-CIO Texas branch, said the proposed legislation is extremely far-reaching, and would force the hand of cities across the state.

"Under the current system, home-rule cities have the ability to do anything they're not prohibited from doing. This would make them basically seek permission from the state to do anything," he said.

The Republican bill sponsors say regulatory powers should be returned to the state so small businesses can operate under consistent regulations. Unions represented by the AFL-CIO and other labor groups say the proposals could undo hard-fought measures to protect workers.

As written, Levy said the bills also would affect non-discrimination ordinances - including those that cover gay, lesbian and trans people.

"To the extent that those differ at all from state law, or federal law, in terms of the clarity of their protections for lesbian and gay folks or anything that goes beyond that would be immediately pre-empted - so it's a pretty draconian effort," he said.

After Alaska, Texas is the second largest state geographically and Levy said he has always been impressed that lawmakers come together to represent such diverse interests. He does not believe they should dictate what elected officials in various cities are allowed to do.

"And just to kind of impose the will of a very small sector of the population on every community in the state - in their zeal to crush any kind of dissent or any kind of diversity they're really stepping on what it means to be Texan," he said.

The proposed legislation comes after Austin, known for its progressive policies, lost the ability to enforce a ban on plastic bags after it was challenged and the Texas Supreme Court ruled it violated state law.

Disclosure: Carnegie Corporation of New York contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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