District of Austin Has Ideal Name in Plan
that Can Expect to Be DOA in the House
November 18, 2022
A conservative GOP state lawmaker who's never passed a piece of major legislation will try to do so in 2023 with a package that he filed this week in an attempt to transform the Texas Capital City into a miniature version of Washington D.C. that would be controlled by the Legislature.
It's probably fitting that State Rep. Jared Patterson of Frisco would name the new creation the District of Austin - or DOA - in light of the fact that it can expect to be dead on arrival when the regular session opens for business in January.
Patterson - a retail electric company employee who won a third term in the general election last week - is taking a page from Governor Greg Abbott after a proposed state takeover of the Austin Police Department that he touted vigorously before the 2021 regular session never had a heartbeat much less a vote.
Unlike the Republican governor, Patterson isn't taking baby steps with the plan that he submitted on Monday with a proposed constitutional amendment and a bill that would enable it. Abbott wanted to have the Department of Public Safety run the local police force in Austin. Instead of shooting pellets, Patterson wants to kill the city of Austin in one fell swoop with House Bill 714 and House Joint Resolution 50.
The Patterson proposal is revolutionary compared to the governor's woodpecker approach - and that makes it all the more unrealistic. The District of Austin appears to be pure fantasy by every conceivable measure despite the guaranteed attention it will garner for a sophomore representative who's still trying to make his first real mark. But Patterson runs the risk of being branded now as the ultimate big government advocate at the Texas Capitol as a consequence of it.
The DOA that Patterson has proposed would convert the municipality of Austin to a territory that would be contained with the city's boundaries that are in effect in Travis County at the start of January in 2024. What's left of the city of Austin would be a suburb in Williamson County if lawmakers did not force it to change the name for symbolic purposes.
The residents of Austin would have no voice in the rebirth of their city as a branch of a state government that would be dramatically expanded beyond any pragmatic person's imagination if the suburban legislator from the Dallas-Fort Worth area can make this dream come true.
The special DOA district would be led by a "governing" officer or body that the Legislature would install in a fashion similar to the way dictators emerge from a coup. Lawmakers would have the option to term-limit the leader of the DOA to four years at the most in the joint resolution that would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers and voter approval in a statewide election.
While the DOA is patterned on the District of Columbia on a doll house scale, the similarities would end there for all practical purposes. The nation's capital evolved into a special district as a necessity for the safety and security in the infant stages of the country when the British were still at war trying to take it back. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were major forces behind the creation of the District of Columbia.
The U.S. capital bounced from Philadelphia to Trenton in New Jersey before George Washington chose its destination on the Potomac River. Patterson appears to be satisfied with Stephen F. Austin as the new DOA district namesake for the time being.