Dubbed the “Death Star” bill by critics, HB 2127 not only eliminates critical workers’ protections, but also weakens cities’ authority to self-govern.

by Alexandra Martinez, Prism

Workers and allies protested July 14 outside Houston’s City Hall, denouncing what they are calling “la ley que mata,” or “the law that kills.” HB 2127, which eliminates critical labor and housing protections for workers, takes effect September 1.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 2127—also known by critics as the “Death Star” bill—last month, leading workers to call on President Joe Biden to intervene to prevent more workers’ deaths. The bill nullifies municipal laws and regulations, specifically taking aim at progressive ordinances that improve worker protections, including regulations related to overtime pay, rest breaks, and water breaks—changes that will directly impact Texas’ immigrant workers. More broadly, the law also has the potential to bar cities from creating regulations related to agriculture, business and commerce, finance, insurance, labor, natural resources, occupations, and property. In short, as reported by the Texas Tribune, “the Legislature decided there was too much Democracy afoot in Texas, so it did something about it.”

men working outside in a hot environment

Houston and San Antonio have sued the state to block the law, arguing that HB 2127 violates the state’s constitutions and prohibits cities from self-governing. According to a survey by the University of Texas/Texas Real Politics Project, nearly half of those surveyed said the state government mostly ignores the needs of Texas residents. Nearly 60% opposed exactly what HB 2127 does, which is “reduce the power of cities and counties to pass laws or regulations in areas where state and local governments have traditionally shared authority.”

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