TODAY'S FAIR SHOTS - April 6th, 2017

1-Magazine Says Abbott's Preemption Plan Might End 'Home-Rule' Status for Cities

2-U.S. Women's Soccer Team Makes Significant Gains in Newly Ratified Union Contract

3. Three things to know as the Texas House kicks off a marathon budget debate

1) Governing Magazine posts a fascinating takeout on the rising level of effort by the Texas Legislature to limit the power of cities and counties.


   The article puts some flesh on Gov. Greg Abbott's proposal for a general law limiting city power, saying he may have in mind changing the status of cities from "home-rule," which allows them to enact ordinances that do not conflict with state law, to "general law," which limits cities to whatever the Legislature says they can do.

   That would be a historic power grab by the same folks who whined for eight years about federal overreach when Barack Obama was President. Now, when a city adopts a plastic bag or payday lending ordinance, the state sees crisis:

   [I]n Texas, Abbott now suggests that instead of spending time and money battling these issues individually, the state should issue a "ban across the board" on municipal regulations.

  "One strategy would be for the state of Texas to take a 'rifle shot after rifle shot after rifle shot' approach to try to override all these local regulations," Abbott explained to the conservative audience last month. "I think it would be far simpler, and frankly easier for those of you who have to run your lives and your businesses on a daily basis, if the state of Texas adopted an overriding policy to create certain standards that must be met."

  The governor has not laid out many more details on how that approach would work, and his press office referred back to his remarks.

  But one possibility, says Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League, is that the state could strip all 352 home-rule cities, which are free to enact regulations as long as they don't expressly conflict with state law, of their home-rule powers. They would then be treated as general-rule cities, which are usually small and can regulate only areas the state specifically gives them permission to oversee.

  Read more:

2. This does not qualify as "equal pay," but the U.S. women's soccer team - unlike the men, clearly one of the best in the world and the reigning World Cup champs - has ratified a new five-year collective bargaining agreement that includes a 30 percent pay raise, The New York Times reports.

   The deal leaves women short of men in the sport, but changes by degrees the way pay is calculated:

   The United States women's soccer team pressed its fight for equal pay not in one dramatic moment at the negotiating table, but in a thousand small ones away from it. In text messages and phone calls, in hotel rooms and on bus rides, and at home in far-flung cities, the players fine-tuned their needs and their arguments and their solidarity.

  Sometimes the suggestions arrived in an overnight email from forward Alex Morgan in France, or a late-night one from midfielder Megan Rapinoe on the West Coast. They sent out anonymous surveys to their teammates, to better gauge what people prioritized but might not want to say aloud, and weighed in on legal language and PowerPoint slides in a cache of shared Google Docs.

  As the talks intensified in recent weeks, players like Becky Sauerbrunn and Meghan Klingenberg conferred with teammates like Kelley O'Hara and Christen Press to propose changes as small as a single word in page after page of proposed contract language. Then they would rehearse what they would say at each negotiating session, and even decide who would say it.

  The result of all those long days and late nights is the team's new collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer, which was announced on Wednesday morning. The agreement includes a sizable increase in base pay for the players - more than 30 percent, initially - and improved match bonuses that could double some of their incomes, to $200,000 to $300,000 in any given year, and even more in a year that includes a World Cup or Olympic campaign.

  Read more:

3. The Texas House will likely debate its $218 billion budget late into Thursday night, marking the last chance for the full chamber to make changes to the document before it begins private negotiations with the Senate on a final version. The Senate unanimously passed its proposed budget last week with little drama and at a reasonable hour of the afternoon. The House, with more than 400 proposed amendments to churn through, is expected to be much rowdier.