With shocking bipartisan support the Texas State Senate has approved a new law levying penalties against cities and counties that defund their police, thus endangering the public without the approval of the voters. This new law follows the massive blowback experienced by majority Democrat cities in the mid-west after they made reactionary moves to defund their police which resulted in a rapid increase in crime rates.
The Democrat minority in the Lone Star State criticized the bill, only one in a series of measures, as a political ploy designed to appeal emotionally to voters “while accomplishing little to nothing to change local spending priorities in Texas.” according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, accused supporters of hypocrisy, saying the Legislature implemented 4% agency budget cuts in 2017 that led the Department of Public Safety to cut 130 trooper positions.
“If the Democrats in Washington attempted to do that to us, the majority of this body would be screaming,” he said. Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston who sponsored the bill replied tersely “The intent of this bill is to support law enforcement. Please vote no if you think it was a political ploy. I don’t want your vote.”
The New Texas Law Protecting Police
As is becoming common, when Democrat run cities and states run one way, Texas strides confidently in the other. Under the new Senate Bill 23, a Texas citizen could launch an inquiry by the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor’s office to determine if a cut to their local police spending without holding an election violates the law.
If the CJD found a complaint to be valid and local governments failed to reverse the decision the matter would be referred to the Texas State Comptroller, who then could impose a penalty on the city or county preventing thme from raising property tax rates until police spending is restored to its previous level.
Critics of the bill pushed for multiple exceptions to be baked into the law providing for recession, natural disaster or a population decline. And for small departments with a low funding threshold one-time spending bumps would not be considered, such as purchasing a new patrol car etc.
Governor Greg Abbott made protecting police budgets an emergency item this session, as the situation to the north worsened and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick designated SB 23 as a priority bill. A dozen other bills are also in progress, two have passed the House committees and are scheduled for votes: HB2362 a cap on government spending by cities and counties at the previous year’s total if cuts are made to police budgets or personnel counts and HB1900 which would apply solely to cities that cut their police department funding year over year stripping their power to annex land for a decade and allowing popular elections to disannex any areas added in the last 30 years if half the registered voters request it.
Lt. Gov. Patrick said,
“The Texas Senate and I remain committed to supporting our law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line when they leave their homes every single day, and I appreciate Sen. Huffman’s continued leadership on this important issue,” after the vote.
While Blue states defund the police and endanger their people, Texas has stepped forward to reinforce their police and ensure that Texans are safer in the days to come.