Local Government Regulation Tramples Property Rights

“Property owners do not acquire a constitutionally protected vested right in property uses …” – Texas Supreme Court; City of University Park v. Benners, 485 SW 2d 773 (1972).

To fully solve the problem of local regulations making Texas cities less and less affordable for the average Texan, delaying construction, and costing Texans jobs, the Texas Legislature must undo the damage done by Texas courts that have subjugated private property rights to the whims of local government planners.

Under the Texas Supreme Court’s 1972 University Park v. Benners decision, property owners must have permission from the government to use their property for anything. So cities can tell owners how they can and can’t use their property, tell them how much of their property they can or cannot use, and can even allow property owners to use their property for a specific use for a time then later prohibit that use. Owners must bear the full cost of these restrictions to serve the “public interest.”

Fortunately, the solution to this is simple. The Texas Legislature should subject cities to the provisions of the Texas Real Private Property Rights Preservation Act, just like every other Texas government entity, giving property owners the ability seek compensation for losses due to regulations. By removing the exemption for cities found in Sec. 2007.003 of the Texas Government Code, the Texas Legislature will provide Texans their day in court to recover the costs of local government regulations that result from outcomes like these:

  • In Harris County, media reports indicate the approval process for business permits can cause delays of up to six months while trying to comply with unnecessary provisions.
  • A 2015 study found that bureaucratic procedures can add up to 3.5 months to the already lengthy Austin permitting process.
  • A survey from the National Association of Homebuilders found that “government regulations represented 25 percent of a [residential] unit’s final sales prices.”

Mindanao 1945

My dad fought in the Philippines during WW II as an infantryman in the 24th Infantry Division. He left some nice memorabilia behind; my son William has really become interested in it lately—you ought to see him with a Japanese fighter pilot’s fur-lined leather helmet strapped to his head!

So that got me searching around the Internet for information about my dad’s service. I found the story below my dad wrote about Private First Class James Diamond, who was awarded (posthumously) the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in May 1945.

My dad can be seen in the photo to the right. It was taken during better times, in the winter of 1945-46 in Okayama, Japan, where my dad was part of the occupation forces in Japan. The story he wrote below, however, took place earlDisplaying image003.pngier in 1945 when he was at Mintal, on the island of Mindanao. The campaign on Mindanao ran just about up to the war’s end. As you’ll read, he witnessed some of the events that earned PFC Diamond his Medal of Honor, since my dad’s foxhole was right next to Diamond’s.

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SwampCare 101 – Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Image result for gomer pyle

Even Gomer Pyle might be surprised by the GOP’s tactics on SwampCare

Few things in politics surprise me anymore; I expect to see the unexpected, the absurd, the mind blowing, etc. Still, the fact that the Republicans can’t see that with SwampCare (or RyanCare, or ObamaCare Light, etc.) they are doing the exact same thing that the Democrats did—“we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”—is almost enough to take one’s breath away. And, of course, they are doing it for the exact same reason the Democrats did it–they don’t want the people to know what is in the bill.

See the press release below from the Texas Public Policy Foundation to see the latest on the mess going on in D.C. today. In the meantime, the good news is that the House Republican leadership still doesn’t have the votes to pass this bill, “I’m confident that we have still enough concerns that a vote of 216 votes in the House would not happen today,” House Freedom Caucus Charmain Mark Meadows said yesterday.

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