Article III, Section 56 of the Texas Constitution ("Local and Special Laws")

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As amended November 6, 2001:

(a) The Legislature shall not, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, pass any local or special law, authorizing [sic]: (1) the creation, extension or impairing of liens; (2) regulating the affairs of counties, cities, towns, wards or school districts; (3) changing the names of persons or places; (4) changing the venue in civil or criminal cases; (5) authorizing the laying out, opening, altering or maintaining of roads, highways, streets or alleys; (6) relating to ferries or bridges, or incorporating ferry or bridge companies, except for the erection of bridges crossing streams which form boundaries between this and any other state; (7) vacating roads, town plats, streets or alleys; (8) relating to cemeteries, grave-yards or public grounds not of the State; (9) authorizing the adoption or legitimation of children; (10) locating or changing county seats; (11) incorporating cities, towns or villages, or changing their charters; (12) for the opening and conducting of elections, or fixing or changing the places of voting; (13) granting divorces; (14) creating offices, or prescribing the powers and duties of officers, in counties, cities, towns, election or school districts; (15) changing the law of descent or succession; (16) regulating the practice or jurisdiction of, or changing the rules of evidence in any judicial proceeding or inquiry before courts, justices of the peace, sheriffs, commissioners, arbitrators or other tribunals, or providing or changing methods for the collection of debts, or the enforcing of judgments, or prescribing the effect of judicial sales of real estate; (17) regulating the fees, or extending the powers and duties of aldermen, justices of the peace, magistrates or constables; (18) regulating the management of public schools, the building or repairing of school houses, and the raising of money for such purposes; (19) fixing the rate of interest; (20) affecting the estates of minors, or persons under disability; (21) remitting fines, penalties and forfeitures, and refunding moneys legally paid into the Treasury; (22) exempting property from taxation; (23) regulating labor, trade, mining and manufacturing; (24) declaring any named person of age; (25) extending the time for the assessment or collection of taxes, or otherwise relieving any assessor or collector of taxes from the due performance of his official duties, or his securities from liability; (26) giving effect to informal or invalid wills or deeds; (27) summoning or empanelling [sic] grand or petit juries; (28) for limitation of civil or criminal actions; (29) for incorporating railroads or other works of internal improvements; or (30) relieving or discharging any person or set of persons from the performance of any public duty or service imposed by general law.

(b) In addition to those laws described by Subsection (a) of this section in all other cases where a general law can be made applicable, no local or special law shall be enacted; provided, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to prohibit the Legislature from passing: (1) special laws for the preservation of the game and fish of this State in certain localities; and (2) fence laws applicable to any subdivision of this State or counties as may be needed to meet the wants of the people.

Editor Comments

This important and often-litigated section generally prohibits the enactment of "local" laws and "special" laws. In addition, Article XII, Section 1 mandates that "[n]o private corporation shall be created except by general laws." Cf. Harwood v. Wentworth, 162 U.S. 547, 563-64 (1896) ("We are of the opinion that the territorial act is not a local or special law . . . . The act is general in its operation; it applies to all counties in the Territory; it prescribes a rule for the stated compensation of certain public officers; no officer of the classes named is exempted from its operation; and there is such a relation between the salaries fixed for each class of counties, and the equalized assessed valuation of property in them, respectively, as to show that the act is not local and special in any just sense, but is general in its application to the whole Territory and designed to establish a system for compensating county officers that is not intrinsically unjust, nor capable of being applied for purposes merely local or special.").

Unfortunately, much of the jurisprudence regarding this type of legislative restriction is indefinite. Cf. Henderson v. Koenig, 168 Mo. 356, 372 (1902) (emphasis in original) ("The act in question is local as to the city of St. Louis, and special as to the incumbent of the office of judge of probate."); Charles Binney, Restrictions Upon Local and Special Legislation in State Constitutions 25-26 (1894) ("Hence, postponing for the present the inquiry into what constitutes a class for legislative purposes, and premising only that the class to which the general laws are applicable must be real and substantial, it may be said in brief that: (1) A general law is one which applies to and operates uniformly upon all members of any class of persons, places or things, requiring legislation peculiar to itself in the matter covered by the law. (2) A special law is one which relates either to particular persons, places or things, or to persons, places or things which, though not particularized, are separated, by any method of selection, from the whole class to which the law might, but for such limitation, be applicable. (3) A local law is one whose operation is confined within territorial limits other than those of the whole State or any properly constituted class of localities therein.").

For over one hundred years, more than forty state constitutions have contained provisions restricting the enactment of local and special laws. Some of the provisions are simple but a substantial majority, referred to as laundry lists, are lengthy. Such restrictions serve a variety of purposes, including: (1) preventing the Legislature from usurping local control over public policy matters delegated generally to political subdivisions of the state (i.e., stopping the Legislature from meddling in local matters); and (2) reserving more time for the Legislature to study and address public policy matters important to the entire state. Cf. 2 Tex. Const. Art. III, § 56, Interpretive Commentary (West 2007) ("The constitutional framers believed that restrictions on the passage of local and special bills would prevent the granting of special privileges; secure uniformity of law throughout the state; decrease the passage of courtesy bills; and encourage the legislature to devote more of its time to interests of the state at large.").

The supreme courts of other states regularly issue decisions regarding their jurisprudence in this area that may inform the proper interpretation of this section. See, e.g., City of Aurora v. Spectra Commc'n Group, LLC, 592 S.W.3d 764, 774 (Mo. 2019) ("Because recent cases have generated complex and confusing criteria for application of the provisions in article III, section 40 of the Missouri Constitution, this Court must revisit its analysis of local or special law challenges under article III, section 40."); Venice HMA, LLC v. Sarasota County, 228 So.3d 76, 80 (Fla. 2017) ("In contrast, '[a] general law operates universally throughout the state, or uniformly upon subjects as they may exist throughout the state, or uniformly within permissible classifications by population of counties or otherwise, or is a law relating to a state function, or instrumentality.'"); Gallardo v. State, 336 P.3d 717, 721 (Ariz. 2014) ("To survive scrutiny, (1) the law must have 'a rational relationship to a legitimate legislative objective,' (2) the classification the law makes must be legitimate, encompassing all members that are similarly situated, and (3) the classification must be elastic, allowing 'other individuals or entities to come within' and move out of the class."); Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission v. Commonwealth, 899 A.2d 1085, 1094 (Pa. 2006) ("'The main purpose behind Article III, Section 32 was 'to put an end to the flood of privileged legislation for particular localities and for private purposes which was common in 1873.'").

The first broad prohibition on local and special laws to appear in a Texas constitution was added by amendment to the Texas Constitution of 1869. In January 1874, the provision (Article XII, Section 40) became effective when ratified by the Legislature. It read: "The Legislature shall not pass local or special laws in any of the following enumerated cases: that is to say, [1] for locating or changing county seats, [2] regulating county or town affairs, [3] regulating the practice in courts of justice, [4] regulating the duties and jurisdiction of justices of the peace and constables, [5] providing for changes of venue in civil and criminal causes, [6] incorporating cities and towns, or changing or amending the charter of any city or village, [7] providing for the management of common schools, [8] regulating the rates of interest on money, [9] remitting fines, penalties, or forfeitures, [10] changing the law of descent. In all other cases when a general law can be made applicable, no special law shall be enacted; or in any case when a general law can be made applicable, no special law shall be enacted. The Legislature shall enact general laws providing for the cases before enumerated in this section, and for all other cases which, in its judgment, may be provided by general laws."

This section, as adopted in 1876, did not expand or otherwise modify the January 1874 provision. Instead, it closely tracked the laundry list provision (Article IV, Section 53) contained in the Missouri Constitution of 1875, which read in part: "The General Assembly shall not pass any local or special law: [1] Authorizing the creation, extension or impairing of liens; [2] Regulating the affairs of counties, cities, townships, wards or school districts; [3] Changing the names of persons or places; [4] Changing the venue in civil or criminal cases; [5] Authorizing the laying out, opening, altering or maintaining [sic] roads, highways, streets or alleys; [6] Relating to ferries or bridges, or incorporating ferry or bridge companies except for the erection of bridges crossing streams which form boundaries between this and any other State; [7] Vacating roads, town plats, streets or alleys; [8] Relating to cemeteries, grave yards or public grounds not of the State; [9] Authorizing the adoption or legitimation of children; [10] Locating or changing county seats; [11] Incorporating cities, towns or villages, or changing their charters; [12] For the opening and conducting of elections, or fixing or changing the places of voting; . . . In all other cases, where a general law can be made applicable, no local or special law shall be enacted; and whether a general law could have been made applicable in any case, is hereby declared a judicial question, and as such shall be judicially determined without regard to any legislative assertion on that subject."

At different times, governors have vetoed perceived local or special laws. See, e.g., Veto Mess. H.B. 167 (1943) ("Clearly then it is a local law and must fall as such, unless it can be fairly said that the class so segregated by the Act is a substantial class and has characteristics legitimately distinguishing it from the remainder of the State so as to require legislation peculiar thereto."). More consistently, attorney generals have opined that legislation violated this section. Cf. Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. H-8 (1973) ("We would suggest that, with particular reference to S.B. 13, a court will see that the only city presently falling within the classification . . . . It will ask questions such as: is there any basis for saying that cities of over 600,000 are better able to provide safe bridges and that it is more important in those cities that the bridges be safe than in smaller cities? It will ask why this greater responsibility, for some reason, terminates when the city reaches 800,000 in population? It is our feeling that unless the act recites valid reasons for the classification, there is a strong possibility that a court will hold that the classification in S.B. 13 as presently drawn is not a reasonable one and that the act is a special law and thus unconstitutional under Article 3, Section 56.").

This section has been amended once. The 2001 modification was part of a "constitutional cleanup amendment." It made stylistic changes and transferred the substance of Sections 22 and 43 of Article XVI to this section. The local and special laws authorized by other sections, either expressly or by implication, include laws: (1) relating to the court system (Article V, Sections 1, 7, 8, 21); (2) creating or affecting a conservation and reclamation district (Article XVI, Section 59); (3) creating or affecting a road or water district (Article III, Section 52); (4) providing for local road maintenance (Article VIII, Section 9); (5) creating or affecting a hospital district (Article IX, Sections 4-11); (6) creating or affecting an airport authority (Article IX, Section 12); (7) relating to the regulation of stock or stock raisers (Article XVI, Section 23); (8) granting aid or tax relief in cases of public calamity (Article III, Section 51, Article VIII, Section 10); and (9) consolidating political subdivision offices or functions (Article III, Section 64).

As reflected by the numerous decisions referenced below, the Texas jurisprudence in this area is within the national mainstream. The governing rules can be summarized as follows: (1) A general law is a law which relates to persons, places or things as a class, both in the present and in the future, which class is based upon a real and substantial difference which bears a reasonable relation to the statute's purpose. (2) A special law is a law which relates to particular persons, places or things of a class; to a class as it is constituted at a given time without allowance for changes in the future; or to a "pretended" class which bears no reasonable relation to the purpose of the relevant statute. (3) A local law is a special law in which the places to which it applies are territorial subdivisions of the state. Note that the substance of the foregoing rules are routinely stated in different terms. More importantly, recognize that the rules are sometimes ignored by courts when considered necessary to reach an equitable result.

Attorney Steve Smith

Recent Decisions

  • City of Tyler v. Liberty Utilities (Tall Timbers Sewer) Corp., 571 S.W.3d 336, 337 (Tex.App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2018, no pet.) ("Not satisfied to rely entirely upon the spirit of freedom, most states, including Texas, have adopted state constitutional provisions that enact a default preference for legislation by general law, accomplished by a general prohibition of legislation by local or special law. In this appeal, we must determine whether an admittedly local law violated the Texas Constitution. . . . We conclude that the statute in controversy violates the general constitutional prohibition against local laws that regulate the affairs of a city.")
  • Sw. Travis County Water Dist. v. City of Austin, 64 S.W.3d 25, 30 (Tex.App.–Austin 2000, pet. dism'd) ("The supreme court has distinguished McCraw and City of Irving on the ground that the statutes there in question affected a substantial class . . . . It may not reasonably be concluded that H.B. 3193 affects, with respect to the water-quality factor, a substantial class of persons over a broad region of the state as opposed to the single District created by H.B. 3193. See, e.g., Vincent v. State, 235 S.W. 1084, 1086 (Tex.Comm'nApp. 1921, judgm't adopted); City of Austin v. City of Cedar Park, 953 S.W.2d 424, 435 (Tex.App.–Austin 1997, no writ).")
  • Ford Motor Co. v. Sheldon, 22 S.W.3d 444, 451 (Tex. 2000) (citations omitted) ("We conclude that there is a reasonable basis for distinguishing class actions involving motor vehicle licensees from other class actions and that Section 6.06(g) operates equally on all within the class. First, '[a] statute is not local or special . . . if it operates on a subject in which people at large are interested.' Automobiles and related issues such as automobile safety are important subjects to the public. Automobiles are the primary . . . . Thus, it is reasonable for the Legislature to ensure heightened judicial scrutiny of these class actions that affect so many individuals.")
  • Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation v. Lewellen, 952 S.W.2d 454, 465 (Tex. 1997) ("Moreover, the growers contend that, because of the statute's classifications, it is a local or special law . . . . A local law is limited to a specific geographic region of the State, while a special law is limited to a particular class of persons distinguished by some characteristic other than geography. See Maple Run at Austin Munic. Utility Dist. v. Monaghan, 931 S.W.2d 941, 945 (Tex.1996). Legislation does not violate Article III, Section 56, however, as long as there is a reasonable basis for its classifications. Id. As explained above, the Act satisfies this test.")
  • Maple Run at Austin Munic. Utility Dist. v. Monaghan, 931 S.W.2d 941, 948-49 (Tex. 1996) ("It is well settled that Section 59(b) authorizes the Legislature to pass local legislation creating specific conservation and reclamation districts without violating Article III, Section 56. . . . Under these circumstances, Section 59 cannot reasonably be read as authorizing local legislation that arbitrarily singles out a community for financial regulation. For the foregoing reasons, we hold that section 43.082 is not authorized under Article XVI, Section 59 of the Texas Constitution, and therefore is a prohibited local law under Article III, Section 56.")

Historic Decisions

  • City of Irving v. Dallas/Fort Worth Int'l Airport Bd., 894 S.W.2d 456, 467 (Tex.App.–Fort Worth 1995, denied) ("There is no doubt about the significance . . . . If ever a statute could be found not local or special 'even though its enforcement or operation is confined to a restricted area,' because 'persons or things throughout the State are affected thereby or if it operates upon a subject in which people at large are interested,' see id. (citing Lower Colorado River Authority, 83 S.W.2d at 629), Senate Bill 348 is such a measure. The Board is also correct in pointing out that Senate Bill 348 may in the future apply to other jointly-operated airports.")
  • Carrollton-Farmers Branch Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist., 826 S.W.2d 489, 510 (Tex. 1992) (citation omitted) ("Article III, section 56 provides in pertinent part that '[t]he Legislature shall not, except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, pass any local or special law . . . [r]egulating the affairs of . . . school districts. . . .' Appellants argue that Senate Bill 351 is such a special law. However, a special or local law is one that applies to a limited class of persons as distinguished by geography or some other special characteristic. By this definition, Senate Bill 351 is clearly not a special or local law: it applies generally to the entire State.")
  • Kelly v. State, 724 S.W.2d 42, 47 (Tex.Crim.App. 1987) ("In a sense, Art. 1918c, supra, is a 'special or local' law as it is expressly limited to Dallas County. The intent of Art. III, Section 56 . . . was 'to combat corruption, personal privileges, and meddling in local affairs–or, conversely, to prevent a group from dashing to the Capitol to get something their local government would not give them.' Vol. 1, The Constitution of the State of Texas: An Annotated and Comparative Analysis, at page 273. However, as the commentary to the section makes clear, that section of our Constitution has been rendered virtually meaningless by court decisions.")
  • Robinson v. Hill, 507 S.W.2d 521, 526 (Tex. 1974) ("Any classification on the basis of population is subject to this complaint, and that circumstance alone is not a sufficient basis for holding the statutory classification unconstitutional. The Legislature has rather broad power to make classifications for legislative purposes, and there is nothing here to suggest that the line drawn is arbitrary or capricious or a mere device used for the purpose of giving a local law the appearance of a general law. See Miller v. El Paso County, 136 Tex. 370, 150 S.W.2d 1000. In our opinion the statute is a general law and does not violate Art. III, Sec. 56, of the Texas Constitution.")
  • Board of Managers of the Harris County Hosp. Dist. v. Pension Bd. of the Pension Sys. for the City of Houston, 449 S.W.2d 33, 38 (Tex. 1969) ("The fact that Section 23a applied, when passed, only to the City of Houston does not make it a local or special law. As a matter of fact, Article 6243g applied only to the City of Houston when it was passed in 1965, but all of its provisions, including those added by Section 23a, are applicable . . . . We have no reason to say that the classification, embracing, as it does, cities in a broad population bracket, only one of which will be presently affected, bears no reasonable relation to the object to be accomplished.")
  • Devon v. City of San Antonio, 443 S.W.2d 598, 601 (Tex.Civ.App.–Waco 1969, ref'd) ("There are no restrictions that limit its operation to any city. It is general and uniform in its application to all cities which may now or hereafter fall within its reasonably broad class. Appellant does not suggest any basis for holding that the classification in the Act is unreasonable or arbitrary, or that it was put in general form by the legislature merely to evade the Constitution, and we find none. To the contrary, considering the subject matter of the Act, we perceive, without discussing, substantial grounds for the classification made by the legislature. The Act is a general law.")
  • Smith v. Davis, 426 S.W.2d 827, 832 (Tex. 1968) ("Further, the classification limiting the applicability of Section 2b to counties with 650,000 or more inhabitants is not unreasonable, because this classification includes all counties to which the section would otherwise be applicable. . . . We do not have to consider the effect of the population bracket as if it discriminated against smaller counties with teaching hospital facilities, because it does not do so; and we may assume that the legislature would recognize the possibility of an unreasonable classification in the event a state-supported medical school were created in a smaller county at some time in the future.")
  • Cameron County v. Wilson, 326 S.W.2d 162, 167 (Tex. 1959) ("Because of the breadth and territorial extent of the State, its varied climatic and economic interests, and the attendant problems of transportation, regulation and general needs incident to a growing and active population, we have been and will again be faced with the need and demand for legislation which affects all the people of the State generally, yet which, in its direct operation will apply to one locality or to a comparatively small number of counties. . . . The scope of such legislation should not be restricted by expanding the nullifying effect of Article 3, § 56 of the Constitution.")
  • Wood v. Wood, 320 S.W.2d 807, 810 (Tex. 1959) ("The Legislature has frankly recognized their plight under the hard and fast time accepted domicil [sic] rule. The solution of their marital problems is one of general interest. While not citizens of Texas in a legal sense . . . . What is contemplated actually by the constitutional inhibition against any special law anent the granting of divorces, we think, is a ban on legislative authority to grant that relief to individuals by a special act. The power of the Legislature to grant divorces absent constitutional restriction, has been recognized generally and formerly in some of the states was not uncommonly exercised.")
  • Smith v. Decker, 312 S.W.2d 632, 635-36 (Tex. 1958) (citation omitted) ("However, it has long been held that the use of population brackets alone to direct legislation toward a particular county needing a particular type of legislation will not in itself save the law from being unconstitutional as a special law if the classification bears no reasonable relationship to the objects sought to be accomplished. There appears to be no logical or apparent reason for the exclusion from the Act of counties having cities of 100,000 to 349,999 inhabitants. There must be a substantial reason for the classification such as attempted here, otherwise the Act must fail.")
  • Rodriguez v. Gonzales, 227 S.W.2d 791, 793 (Tex. 1950) ("The primary purpose back of the adoption of this section was to secure that uniformity in the application of law which is essential to an ordered society. The section is not of doubtful construction, but is a plain mandate . . . . The prohibition is against any 'local or special law.' We are not concerned with any distinctions which may be drawn between a local law and a special law, for in our opinion the Act under review is both a local and a special law within the meaning of the constitutional provision. This is so clear to our minds that we shall not discuss the question at length.")
  • State v. McDonald, 220 S.W.2d 732, 733 (Tex.Civ.App.–Texarkana 1949, ref'd) (citations omitted) ("If above House Concurrent Resolution be susceptible of the construction that it was the intent to waive immunity from liability as urged by plaintiffs, such would lend no validity to this judgment, for such resolution is unconstitutional. . . . Appellees assert that the legislature in sessions after sessions has passed bills and resolutions, at times a field day, granting permission to people to sue the State for alleged negligent acts of agents and employees of the various departments of the State, and later has authorized payments of judgments recovered.")
  • Jones v. Anderson, 189 S.W.2d 65, 66 (Tex.Civ.App.–San Antonio 1945, ref'd) ("Appellant further complains that the Act violates Sections 56 and 57 of Article 3 of our constitution in that it attempts to regulate the affairs of a county by a local or special law. We overrule this contention, the first sentence in Section 56 reads as follows: 'The Legislature shall not, except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, pass any local or special law.' Section 1, Article 5, of the Constitution authorizes the enactment of just such an act as Article 52—161, C.C.P., and is therefore made an exception in the very first sentence of Sec. 56, Art. 3, of the Constitution.")
  • State Highway Department v. Gorham, 162 S.W.2d 934, 937 (Tex. 1942) ("If the Act be construed as a special law, depriving the State of a defense in a particular case, it is unconstitutional, as being violative of Section 3 of the Texas Bill of Rights, which provides that all men shall have equal rights. It is also violative of Article III, Section 56, of our State Constitution, which provides that no local or special law shall be enacted where a general law can be made applicable. . . . It certainly was not the intention of the framers of our Constitution that the State should have certain defenses against some individuals, but not against others similarly situated.")
  • Ex parte Carson, 159 S.W.2d 126, 129 (Tex.Crim.App. 1942) ("History of legislation reveals to us a very early practice, having a persistent accelerated tendency, against which the framers of the Constitution were, undoubtedly, endeavoring to provide an insurmountable barrier in Section 56, Article 3 of our Constitution. The trading and trafficking in the passing of local and special laws resulting in special privileges and immunities may be viewed as one of the danger elements in all legislative bodies which consists of representatives from varied districts not affected always in all matters by the things which the other may do or not do.")
  • Anderson v. Wood, 152 S.W.2d 1084, 1087 (Tex. 1941) ("We can conceive of no reason why the Commissioners' Courts of counties with a population of less than 195,000 and those with populations in excess of 205,000 should have a right to employ county traffic officers, while the Commissioners' Court of Tarrant County, such county . . . . The necessity for the employment of traffic officers in Tarrant County appears to be as urgent as in counties of lesser population. The classification appears to be an arbitrary one bearing no relation to the subject of legislation, and as a consequence this particular section of the act is void as a local or special law.")
  • Miller v. El Paso County, 150 S.W.2d 1000, 1001 (Tex. 1941) ("It is intended to prevent the granting of special privileges and to secure uniformity of law throughout the State as far as possible. It is said that at an early period in many of the states the practice of enacting special and local laws became 'an efficient means for the easy enactment of laws for the advancement of personal rather than public interests, and encouraged the reprehensible practice of trading and 'logrolling.'' It was for the suppression of such practices that such a provision was adopted in this and many of the other states of the Union. 25 R.C.L., p. 820, § 68.")
  • Harris County Flood Control Dist. v. Mann, 140 S.W.2d 1098, 1104 (Tex. 1940) ("We are of the opinion that we have disposed of the contention that the 1937 Act violates that part of Section 56 of Article III of our State Constitution above indicated in our holding that this Act creates this District as a State governmental agency, a body politic and corporate, separate, distinct, and independent within itself. Simply stated, the Act of 1937 is fully authorized by Section 59 of Article XVI of our State Constitution, and the Act creating this District should not be classed as a local or special law within the meaning of the constitutional provision under discussion.")
  • Bexar County v. Tynan, 97 S.W.2d 467, 470-71 (Tex. 1936) ("Notwithstanding it is true that the Legislature may classify counties upon a basis of population for the purpose of fixing compensation of county and precinct officers, yet in doing so the classification must be based upon a real distinction, and must not be arbitrary or a device to give what is in substance a local or special law the form of a general law. . . . There are many things connected with the history of this bill in the Legislature which convincingly indicate that the House and Senate regarded it as purely a local bill, but we do not deem it necessary to enumerate them here.")
  • Lower Colorado River Authority v. McCraw, 83 S.W.2d 629, 636 (Tex. 1935) ("In the first place, it is settled that a statute is not local or special, within the meaning of this constitutional provision, even though its enforcement is confined to a restricted area, if persons or things throughout the state are affected thereby, or if it operates upon a subject that the people at large are interested in. Stephensen v. Wood, 119 Tex. 564, 34 S.W.2d 246. An examination of this act convinces us that it operates upon a subject that the state at large is interested in. In fact, the business and operation of this district is not restricted to a particular area.")
  • Fritter v. West, 65 S.W.2d 414, 415 (Tex.Civ.App.–San Antonio 1933, ref'd) ("[B]y the expressed terms of this bill it affects only Kinney county. . . . In City of Fort Worth v. Bobbitt, 36 S.W.(2d) 470, 472, the court said: 'An act which designates a particular city or county by name * * * and whose operation is limited to such city or county, is held to be local or special.' In Austin Bros. v. Patton (Tex.Com.App.) 288 S.W. 182, 186, the court said: 'A local law is one the operation of which is confined to a fixed part of the territory of the state. The statute under consideration relates to Houston county only–a particular one of the class, all counties being the class.'")
  • Smith v. State, 49 S.W.2d 739, 743-44 (Tex.Crim.App. 1932) ("Again, the effort of the Legislature, by amending [the relevant statute], after the census of 1930 disclosed that McLennan county had by virtue of increased population passed beyond its operation, to hold McLennan county within the purview of the act, manifests, under the decisions, a purpose, by a pretended classification, to evade the constitutional inhibition, and, under the guise of such classification, to enact a law designed for McLennan county alone. . . . Hence the opinion is expressed that a violation of the provisions of article 3, § 56, of the Constitution is manifested.")
  • City of Fort Worth v. Bobbitt, 36 S.W.2d 470, 472-73 (Tex. 1931) ("[W]e do not mean to hold that an act general in its nature and terms would be in contravention of the above constitutional provisions, merely because at the time of its passage it only affects one city; in fact we hold to the contrary. We think, however, that an act which is so drawn that by its plain and explicit provisions it is made to apply to one city only in the state, and can never in any contingency apply to any other city, is just as repugnant to the constitutional provisions under discussion as though the name of the city to which the act does apply had been written into the act in the first instance.")
  • Stephensen v. Wood, 34 S.W.2d 246, 249 (Tex. 1931) ("The statute operates upon a subject matter in which the people at large are interested; it applies with equal force to all persons everywhere; and the fact that it only operates in certain localities grows out of the subject matter. . . . A regulation protecting fish in the coastal waters which is made to apply to the entire State would be an idle and useless thing, as most of our counties have no coast line at all. Also the protection of fish and their spawning grounds along any part, or all of the coast line of the State is a matter of general public interest. For the reasons stated we hold this to be a general law.")
  • Phil H. Pierce Co. v. Watkins, 263 S.W. 905, 906 (Tex. 1924) ("Chapter 105 [] under its terms and under the well-recognized rules of law is not a special or local law. . . . It is not asserted that the classification in this instance is a fictitious one. That it is a bona fide classification, based upon facts and real conditions, is apparent in its terms, and supported by the fact that it applies and is operative over a number of civil district courts in many of the large counties of the state. The law is a valid exercise of legislative authority, and well designed to have a wholesome effect upon the dispatch and finality of litigation in the courts in our congested centers.")
  • Duclos v. Harris County, 263 S.W. 562, 563 (Tex. 1924) ("If the Legislature had, by enactment other than in the bill creating the court, attempted to increase the salary of the clerk of Harris County alone, such enactment would clearly be a special and local law, and violative of Sec. 56, Art. 3. Can the fact that it is included in the provisions of a general law creating a new court in a county in which a clerk for all district courts was already provided and his compensation fixed under a general law, the same as for all other clerks in like counties, change its nature . . . . We think not. To so hold would he to look to the form and not the spirit and purpose of the law.")
  • O'Brien v. Amerman, 247 S.W. 270, 271 (Tex. 1922) ("It is urged in support of the first two grounds of attack that the law was enacted for application by the city of Houston alone, between that port and the Gulf, when the conditions . . . . It seems obvious that the number of pilots and the need of careful and strict supervision of pilotage would increase with the size of the port and the extension of its terminal water transportation facilities. Classification of pilots according to port population and municipal terminal facilities, having a reasonable basis and operating uniformly on those coming within the same class, violates no provision of the Constitution.")
  • Bell County v. Hall, 153 S.W. 121, 122 (Tex. 1913) ("The honorable Court of Civil Appeals for the Third district held on this appeal that the act . . . . Upon a careful consideration of the question, we concur in this conclusion, and do not regard it necessary to supplement the able opinion written in the case by Chief Justice Key. In relieving Bell county from the operation of the general law, this act, in effect, changed the administration of its affairs in every particular provided by the general law, and thus by indirection regulated its affairs as effectually as though it had directly and affirmatively prescribed a different method for their management.")
  • Smith v. State, 113 S.W. 289, 300 (Tex.Crim.App. 1908) (P.J. Davidson, dissenting) ("I am persuaded that no case can be found in the reports which holds a law to be general which failed to provide for and anticipate the wants of the future. On the contrary, whenever the question has arisen, every court has held a law special which created a classification which was arbitrary or illusive, and which operated upon unchangeable conditions and failed to provide for future localities or objects to come within the class, no matter how ingenious the evasion employed to make a special law assume the guise of a general law may have been.")
  • Reed v. Rogan, 59 S.W. 255, 257-58 (Tex. 1900) ("It has been well said that 'a law is not local that operates upon a subject in which the people at large are interested.' Healey v. Dudley, 5 Lans. 115. The sales of the school lands of the State may be a matter of especial [sic] importance to the people who reside in the localities where they are situate. They are none the less a matter of interest to the people in general and to the State itself. Not only is the school fund . . . . The simple solution of the question is that the people of the State–its public–are interested in the property of the State, and that a law which provides for its sale is a general and public law.")
  • Clark v. Finley, 54 S.W. 343, 345 (Tex. 1899) ("Indeed, it is perhaps the exception when a statute is found which applies to every person or thing alike. . . . The tendency of the recent decisions upon the subject, as it seems to us, is to drift into refinements that are rather more specious than profitable. It is said in some of the cases that the classification must be reasonable; in others, that it must not be unreasonable or arbitrary, etc. If it is meant by this that the legislature cannot evade the prohibition of the constitution as to special laws by making a law applicable to a pretended class, which is, in fact, no class, we concur in the proposition.")
  • City of Dallas v. Western Electric Co., 18 S.W. 552, 553 (Tex. 1892) ("The prohibitions, limitations, and requirements contained in section 56 of article 3 . . . . If provisions found in the charters of cities containing over 10,000 inhabitants are subject to no other objection than that they are local or special, and such as could be provided for by a general law, they must stand because they are permitted by section 5 of article 11, and therefore expressly excepted from the operation of section 56 of article 3. If the privileges and powers contained in such charters are such as can be given to cities by either general or special legislation, they must be respected.")
  • Dillingham v. Putnam, 14 S.W. 303, 304 (Tex. 1890) (citation omitted) ("The section of the Constitution forbidding the passage of special or local laws on numerated subjects forbids the passage of such laws 'for limitation of civil or criminal actions' but we do not understand the Act in question within the meaning of the Constitution to be such a limitation. We understand that section of the Constitution to forbid the passage of a law which would extend or restrict the time within which an action should be brought against or in favor of one person, when upon a like cause of action a longer or shorter period of limitation is provided for persons generally of like status.")
  • Lytle v. Halff, 12 S.W. 610, 614 (Tex. 1889) ("Every law fixing the territory which shall constitute a judicial district is necessarily local in its character, but the power of the legislature to do this is expressly recognized. The creation of two judicial districts in a county operates no further towards the regulation of the affairs of the county than does the establishment of one, and it seems to us that the act in question is not within the meaning of the constitution on regulating the affairs of a county; for that paragraph of the section referred to has application to such affairs as are common to all the subdivisions of the state referred to in it.")
  • Johnson v. Martin, 12 S.W. 321, 324 (Tex. 1889) ("The appellees also contend that the Acts of 1883 and 1879 are in conflict with section 56, article 3, of the Constitution. The section declares that the Legislature shall not, except as otherwise provided, pass any local or special law 'regulating the affairs of counties, cities, towns, wards, or school districts,' etc. . . . [T]he portion of the Act of 1883 under which plaintiff was elected is not in violation of the section of the Constitution quoted above. It is a general law, as we think is the entire section; and it does not attempt to regulate any of the affairs of any particular county, town, or city.")
  • Beyman v. Black, 47 Tex. 558, 566 (1877) (citation omitted) ("Indeed, it has not been argued that the act violates any of the [specific] provisions of the constitutional amendments of January, 1874, forbidding . . . and that 'the Legislature shall pass general laws providing for the cases before enumerated in this section, and for all other cases which, in its judgment, may be provided by general laws.' Even if the law could be regarded as a local or special act, its passage would be taken as the judgment of the Legislature, that the case was not one which could be provided for by a general law, and their decision is conclusive of that question.")
  • Treasurer of State v. Wygall, 46 Tex. 447, 459 (1877) ("The constitutional limitations that were invoked in the numerous exceptions taken to this special law of the Legislature . . . . With the policy or motive of passing such a special law in this case, we have nothing to do. As it presents itself to the court it is a question of power in the Legislature. The amendments to the Constitution, January 18,1874, prohibiting the Legislature from passing such a special law, may he regarded as some evidence, though not conclusive, that the Legislature did not regard its power to do it restrained by any other provision of the Constitution. (Acts of 1874, p. 235.).")
  • Orr v. Rhine, 45 Tex. 345, 352-53 (1876) ("[W]hen this statute was passed, May 26, 1873, there was no constitutional restriction upon the power of the Legislature to enact local laws. There was, at least, no explicit and direct restriction of this kind until the ratification of the amendments to the Constitution, January 26, 1874. It is, we think, a rule of construction, to be generally adhered to in the construction of constitutions as well as statutes, that they operate prospectively, unless the words employed, or when the object in view and the nature and character of the provision, clearly show that it was intended to have a retrospective operation.")

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