This commentary originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on April 28, 2015.

On Monday, the Texas Intergovernmental Affairs Committee heard Senate Bill 710, which would allow Texans in unincorporated areas to protect their freedom from big-city taxes and regulations by incorporating “liberty cities.”

What is a liberty city? Simply put, it’s a city whose primary objective is the preservation and protection of the rights of its citizens. If Senate Bill 710 passes, a new type of city would be available to choose from for citizens in unincorporated areas who wish to create a city.

A liberty city does not waste money on pet projects or saddle future taxpayers with an enormous debt burden. It does not try to manage private property through excessive land-use regulations or manage the lives of its citizens with lifestyle regulations.

What the liberty city does very well is leave its citizens alone. In this way, they can prosper and exercise their freedom in the way they see fit, building small businesses and taking care of families and helping their neighbors.

These cities also do what we expect local governments to do: take care of the streets, provide for public safety and put out fires. Because they don’t waste money on things like corporate handouts, they can afford to do a good job with the few services they do provide.

Liberty cities don’t stand for anarchy. They enforce the laws. But because there are fewer of them to enforce, the people know where they stand. That, in a nutshell, is the liberty city.

Such an idea seems quixotic, almost fantastic. How could such a city exist? Furthermore, how could a bill actually receive a hearing promising to create such cities?

In fact, liberty cities already exist. Senate Bill 710 would only encourage their spread and creation throughout Texas.

But for the citizens of Von Ormy, Texas, being free is just a way of life. When this small community in south Bexar County realized in 2008 that they weren’t getting needed local services, they did the improbable and sought incorporation. By incorporating, Von Ormy, like all liberty cities, protected itself from being annexed by any other city (such as San Antonio).

Since that time, Von Ormy has served as a real-life example of what local government can be. Commercial investment has exploded, and the city has done so well that it was able to abolish its property tax in 2014.

The English philosopher John Locke famously posited that for a government to be just and moral, it must derive its power from the consent of the governed. In some Texas cities, the governed are controlled by their government. The proper balance is unequivocally the opposite: the government should protect the rights of the people it serves. In a local context, this means that a city should serve the citizens and not try to run their lives, waste their money or tell them what to do with their property.

Not every Texas city can become a liberty city overnight. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution for out-of-control government.

But for some Texans on the edge of major cities that also have major taxes, debt and regulations, the liberty city is a way to create an island of freedom.

For the sake of all Texans, especially those in unincorporated areas, the Legislature should pass Senate Bill 710 and enshrine the liberty city into law.

Fields is a senior policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and a former College Station City Council member.