Restaurants applaud Texas' effort to avert a hodgepodge of business regulations

A bill signed into law by Gov. Abbott ensures that local and county jurisdictions can't set rules that conflict with state and federal requirements.
The Texas flag flies along with the U.S. banner in Austin. | Photo: Shutterstock

Texas restaurateurs are praising Gov. Greg Abbott for signing into law a bill they contend will ease the regulatory headaches of operations growing within the state.

The measure prevents municipalities and counties from setting regulations that conflict with state and federal rules governing a number of business matters, including what employers are obliged to provide their employees. Its intent is to provide growing businesses with a single set of requirements, processes and mandates, instead of making them navigate a patchwork of local and county laws and regulations.

They point out that purely local matters, such as zoning regulations, will continue to be addressed by towns and cities.

The advocates note that Texas, the nation’s second largest state by area, encompasses 254 counties and 1,200 municipalities. In contrast, California has 58 counties and 482 municipalities.

California is the only state with a larger restaurant industry than the one in Texas.

“Texas restaurants have persevered through a very difficult three years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and inflation,” the Texas Restaurant Association said in a statement on the law, HB 2127. “The State of Texas cannot reverse these events or the significant costs they’ve created, but the State can help businesses rebuild and grow by ensuring we have a single, predictable set of regulations to govern our statewide economy. HB 2127 delivers on this promise.”

The group said an effort to push the bill into law has been underway for years.

Similar bills came in a flurry while momentum was building last decade for requirements that restaurants post nutritional information on their menus. Known as “hamburger bills,” they were aimed both at thwarting early adoption of mandates within a liberal city or county of a generally more conservative state, and to spare chains from having to meet a hodgepodge of local requirements.

The possibility of facing a patchwork of differing requirements prompted the industry to request that labeling requirements be set in legislation by the federal government. Congress and President Obama obliged the industry by including the rules now in place nationwide within the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March 2010.

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