Politics

Texas Lawmakers Aim To Limit Local Governments’ Power To Sue

If passed, the bill would allow the Texas Attorney General’s Office to block Harris County from seeking legal remedies against ITC regarding the Deer Park fire.

The Texas Capitol in Austin.

Overriding local control has been a recurring theme for the last few state legislative sessions, and this year is no exception. Harris County is pushing back on efforts by state lawmakers to limit the county’s ability to sue.

The latest Texas House bill would require local governments to clear all contracts to hire outside counsel with the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

“And if the attorney general deems that the contract not to be in furtherance of his policies or his duties, he can reject the contract totally,” said Robert Soard, First Assistant County Attorney for Harris County.

Soard said that could affect any case Harris County might make regarding the Deer Park fire, “so even if the local government decided to hire outside counsel to deal with an issue like ITC, the attorney general could cancel the contract and say, ‘No.’”

The bill is scheduled for a Monday hearing. County representatives will be in Austin to testify against it.

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Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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