By: Sen. Brandon Creighton
Imagine you’ve fulfilled your lifelong dream of starting a home remodeling business and you’re busy working with clients in Austin, Round Rock and Buda. You provide competitive wages and benefits to your employees, who regularly split their time between three different cities to get the job done.
Now, imagine each city has their own mandates of what benefits you provide, and implements policies to reflect such, which is triggered any time an employee crosses the city limits. Never mind that your business isn’t based in any of those cities, nor are your employees their residents. You must adopt each city’s subjective and bureaucratic policy to continue doing business there.
Alternatively, your family has owned and operated restaurants in Westlake and Austin for 30 years. You offer benefits and incentives to take care of your employees, but benefits also keep morale high and deter turnover. Over the years, you have also made sacrifices just to make payroll in lean times, and done whatever possible to help your employees in their time of need.
Now, imagine one of those cities passes an ordinance mandating expensive employment benefits. To comply, you’re forced to give some employees more benefits than others—for no reason other than location. Small businesses operate on thin margins, therefore these mandates would reduce existing benefits and shifts, or increase costs to customers.
These aren’t hypothetical situations, they’re a growing challenge for businesses of all sizes. Recently, several Texas cities have passed local employment regulations, adding expensive red tape to small businesses.
That’s why I filed Senate Bills 2485, 2486, 2487 and 2488 to create consistency across the state. These bills will streamline employment regulations so employers have consistency from Beaumont to El Paso, from Dallas to Laredo.
These bills are specifically focused on local employment regulations and nothing else. Local officials may want to pass other types of ordinances to attract businesses, and I support those efforts. But employment regulations aren’t simply a local issue, they impact the entire state’s ability to attract jobs, and they deserve a broader legislative policy rather than a piecemeal approach.
Other states are experiencing a mass exodus of jobs because of a burdensome web of local regulations that strangle growth—Seattle and San Francisco are both good examples. To avoid those complications, employers are moving their jobs to Texas. That’s good news, but we should learn from those examples, not replicate the same bad policies.
These regulations are making business decisions for employers big and small, forcing mandates whether they can afford them or not. By requiring one benefit, businesses will have to cut back on existing benefits they voluntarily provide. If you can’t afford paid sick leave and health insurance, you’ll have to eliminate something your employees count on. If forced to provide one, you must sacrifice the other. It is a lose-lose situation.
Further, this patchwork creates an unfriendly climate for business across the state—ultimately causing damage to our reputation and economy. Let’s leave business decisions to the men and women who run their businesses. As lawmakers, let’s promote a predictable framework to encourage opportunity in Texas.
Creighton, R-Conroe, represents Senate District 4.