Governor Abbott made cracking down on local tree laws part of his call for the special session because he believes they can violate private property rights. Wednesday, a group of tree advocates came to the state capitol to keep those laws firmly planted in place.
Under the canopy of an oak tree, on the east side of the Texas capitol, the words from a popular Dr. Seuss book could be heard Wednesday morning. The reading from the Book, The Lorax, was done by state representatives Wayne Faircloth ( R ) Galveston and Carol Alvarado ( D ) Houston.
"One morning I came to this glorious place, and I first saw the trees,” read Alvarado.
Several parents and their children listened as the 2 lawmakers from two different political parties took part in this rally for trees. "I’m the Lorax who speaks for the Trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please,” read Faircloth.
Faye L. Holland brought her three children to the event.
"I was just really happy it was a republican and a democrat that were talking together, because I just like bipartisanship so much, it gives me hope,” said Holland.
The gathering was organized to throw shade on Governor Abbott's Call to cut back local tree ordinances.
"We don’t need a City Council of Texas, we've got our local city councils that are best able to balance the interest of property owners in their communities and we need to respect their ability to do that,” said Andrew Dobbs with Texas Campaign for the Environment.
Lizzy Milani, one of the kids at the event, has seen the movie adaption of the Book, but this is the first time she has had it read to her. The lesson of the book, according to her, is very clear.
“You've got to take care of trees, because if you don’t bad things will happen, because that area was ugly in that illustration,” said Milani who came to the reading with her mom and younger sister.
Legislation to prevent a tree ordinance from being enforced on a homeowner's private property has already cleared the Senate. A similar Bill is pending in the House. But a different compromise Bill, drafted by Rep. Dade Phelan, has already moved out of House Chamber.
"It’s not a Republican, or Democrat, liberal or conservative; it’s really a Regional issue,” said Rep. Phelan.
Phelan's HB7, allows property owners to offset mitigation fees if they replant what they cut.
"So the city gets trees, they get half the fee, and the property owner gets to reduce their overhead, whether they are developing it or it’s their home, say they want to add on a garage or swimming pool, it will reduce those fees in half,” said the Republican from Port Neches.
The fate of Phelan's bill remains as uncertain as that of the trees in the story of The Lorax. But those at the rally, like the characters in the book, believe as they meet with lawmakers - some seeds of hope will be planted.