Neeley: Don’t let local control undermine the Texas model

Monday, April 06, 2015

Texas has always been fiercely protective of its prerogatives as a state. From challenging federal regulatory overreach in court to maintaining our own electric grid, we are willing to go to great lengths to ensure we can chart our own political destiny.

Historically, most of the threats to state prerogatives have come from above, from the federal government. Recently, Texas has faced a new set of challenges to its authority, this time coming from below, from cities and municipalities, often driven by activist groups or entrenched special interests.

Texas has always been fiercely protective of its prerogatives as a state. From challenging federal regulatory overreach in court to maintaining our own electric grid, we are willing to go to great lengths to ensure we can chart our own political destiny.

Historically, most of the threats to state prerogatives have come from above, from the federal government. Recently, Texas has faced a new set of challenges to its authority, this time coming from below, from cities and municipalities, often driven by activist groups or entrenched special interests.

Last November, Denton became the first city in Texas to ban fracking, and other cities are now looking to follow suit. The Denton ban, which was initiated not by the City Council but as the result of initiative petition has created costly uncertainty for both the energy industry and the city itself. Numerous lawsuits challenging the legality of the new ordinance currently are pending. Oil and gas production is the lifeblood of the Texas economy, yet action on the local level is threatening to undermine the industry.

The last few years also have seen the rapid rise of transportation network companies, which use smartphone apps to connect drivers and riders in real time. This emerging market provides a service that can be cheaper and more convenient than traditional taxis. TNCs such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar quickly have become a staple of life in urban areas.

This new transportation model frequently buts up against existing vehicle-for-hire regulations, which were built around traditional taxi and limo services. But the past year has seen a remarkable turnaround in how some of America’s biggest cities deal with alternative transportation. Cities from Washington to San Francisco have implemented sensible regulatory frameworks that allow TNCs to provide an alternative to traditional taxis while still addressing legitimate safety concerns.

Read the original article here: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/opinion/neeley-dont-let-local-control-undermine-the-texas-/nknMJ/#49ffa88c.3585997.735694%23__federated=1

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