City governments spend millions every year to influence state-level policymaking in Austin. Armed with Other People’s Money, city officials often employ external lobbyists (i.e. registered lobbyists), internal lobbyists (i.e. intergovernmental relations personnel), and pro-government associations (i.e. Texas Municipal League, Texas Association of Counties, Texas Association of School Boards, etc.) to push ideas that promote or protect their authority. One city government that engages in this practice is the city of El Paso.

According to the OpenSecrets website, the city of El Paso’s lobbying expenses totaled $20,000 in 2022. In 2023, the city’s lobbying expenditures appear to have increased substantially, ranging from between $101,110 to $252,700, according to the Texas Ethics Commission.

While there is not as much detail regarding these expenditures as one would hope for, the bigger issue is what those monies were spent on. As it turns out, the city’s priorities weren’t exactly aligned with the interests of everyday Texans.

According to the city’s 2023 legislative program, its taxpayer-funded lobbying muscle sought to achieve the following:

  1. Implement the Green Agenda: “Support legislation that: Creates renewable energy tax credits that complement federal renewable energy tax credits.”
  2. Protect Annexation Authority: “Oppose legislation that: Would further restrict municipal authority to annex land or impose more stringent requirements on a municipality’s ability to annex land.”
  3. Preserve Emergency Powers: “Oppose legislation that: removes the local health authority’s existing authority to issue emergency orders.”
  4. Promote Open Borders: “Oppose legislation that: Will allow U.S. Border Patrol agents to be carried as state peace officers.”

These four issues are just a small snapshot of the city of El Paso’s attempt to influence state policy; however, they reveal its leftwing nature. In the 89th legislative session, we should expect the city to continue striving to achieve its progressive goals using taxpayer funds.

Texans should be careful that the state does not go the way of California, but instead preserves its liberty-minded ethos. This can only be accomplished, however, if the pernicious influence of taxpayer-funded lobbying is dealt with directly. Thus, it is critical that the 89th Legislature to ban this practice in the coming legislative session.