Gov. Abbott Wants Small Government, Big State

click to enlarge Gov. Abbott Wants Small Government, Big State
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This session Gov. Greg Abbott turned his “Fed Up!” predecessor’s obsession with state control into an actual policy priority. While other state lawmakers worry about the budget or the state’s dismal record of protecting its most vulnerable kids or ginned-up fears about public bathrooms, here’s what Abbott decided was an emergency item for the legislature: a resolution calling for a constitutional convention to limit the size of the federal government.

Abbott’s penchant for state control apparently works the other way, too. As the state’s conservative leaders try (somewhat awkwardly) to carry on the long tradition of bucking the feds into the Trump years, Abbott this week settled on another target: local counties and cities that want to make their own rules on things like environmental protection and equal rights. On Tuesday, Abbott told a Corpus Christi crowd that he wants a "broad-based law" that would let the state "preempt" such local regulations.

According to the Caller-Times, Abbott then waxed philosophical on the subject of personal liberty. "If you really want to talk about local control, you reduce it to the lowest common denominator and that is the individual," he told the crowd, which had been gathered by a conservative think tank. "We retain the right as individuals for our own local control, for each of us, to be able to chart our own course, chart our own destiny based upon our own DNA."

The types of local policies Abbott wants the state to preempt usually have to do with things like clean water, clean air, protections against discrimination for the LGBTQ community, and police department policies that protect immigrants who abide by local laws. Last session, Abbott signed a bill that blocked Denton from banning oil and gas drilling within city limits, a policy local voters had approved. Abbott has also fought vociferously against so-called “sanctuary city” policies designed to keep local cops from acting like immigration agents. And given his past stance on LGBTQ equality, it’s pretty easy to guess where Abbott stands on things like local non-discrimination ordinances.

Abbott says he wants to make government smaller. It's just that do so, he wants to expand the reach of the state.