One of the key themes of Governor Greg Abbott’s special session call was ending regulatory overreach at the local level. And the governor did not pull his punches in highlighting his determination to protect the rights of citizens regardless of the local government they live under, declaring that he was:
“…calling for legislation that reduces, restricts, and prohibits local regulations. Some local governments, like the city of Austin, are doing everything they can to overregulate. In the process, they are stifling our economy, interfering with job creation, and undermining private property rights.”
The Governor is, of course, correct. Cities have overstepped on everything from plastic bags to ridesharing to tree trimming and more. But few, if any, other area is plagued by the problem of local overregulation as short-term rentals (STRs).
Across Texas, municipalities have enacted burdensome STR policies which intrude upon the property rights of Texan citizens. Among the worst offenders, unsurprisingly, has been the city of Austin—which was specifically called-out during the governor’s speech—who passed an ordinance which allows for warrantless searches and blatantly infringes on the rights of Texans.
If Governor Abbott so chose, he could well broaden the special session call on local regulations relating to trees to all private property. It would allow for action to be taken by the legislature to restore the rights of Texans who desire to operate an STR on their own private property, and are being prevented from doing so by unconstitutional regulations. Regulating what property owners can or cannot do with trees on their property is bad enough; regulating what they can do with their own homes is even worse.