Texas: where the government hamstrings itself with laws that prevent laws.

The article headline: “Texas lawmakers following up on the deadly April explosion in West hesitated Monday to support new regulations for storing, moving and insuring ammonium nitrate in the state.”

Judging from this example, the laws in Texas – such as they are – seem to be more in the business interest rather than in the interest of voters. I was amazed to learn that, although the state has a fire marshal, it has no fire code. Now, I suppose I could say “Although the state has no fire code, it has a fire marshal” if I wanted to try to make some sarcastic point about overbloated gummint bureaucracies, but this isn’t about that. The serious issue is about ensuring some level of public safety, which one would think would be an inherently governmental function.

By statute, only Texas counties with populations more than 250,000, or ones that share a border with such a county, can adopt their own fire code. (Apparently, the rule of law defaults to the state code otherwise – and there is none). But, they don’t have to, and McLennan county, which is where the West facility is located, could have but has not. The other counties – that would be over 70% of the counties in Texas – are thus effectively prevented by law from enacting their own fire code.

The legislative committee looking into the matter cannot propose any bills that might address this issue because the legislature is not currently in regular session. The Texas legislature only meets in regular session in odd-numbered years (and only for 140 days at that). The next session won’t be until January 2015.

Texas: where the government hamstrings itself with laws that prevent laws.

 

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