Proposed state takeover of Austin police legal

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference with Texas Attorney Geberal Ken Paxton, left, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen before signing a "Texas Backs the Blue Pledge" at the Austin Police Association on Sept. 10.

When the proposal for a state takeover of the Austin Police Department made headlines recently, some wondered if such a move would violate the Texas Constitution.

It wouldn’t, according to several experts on the state’s constitution.

Because Austin is the seat of state government, state lawmakers can claim matters that might seem local, such as how a city council budgets for public safety, have statewide impact.

David B. Brooks, an Austin attorney who has written several volumes on Texas municipal and county government, said two sections of Texas law make it clear that things work differently in Austin. One is the section that outlines Austin as the capital of the state and seat of Texas’ government. The other is a section that gives the state authority over local matters when a statewide importance is determined.

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