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Gov. Greg Abbott has vetoed 20 bills that were passed in this year’s legislative session, including two of the Speaker’s criminal justice priorities, legislation that would have prohibited tying dogs outside with heavy chains, and a bill that would have required students to learn the dangers of domestic violence.
The 20 bills in total that have been vetoed are the fewest drafted by Abbott since 2005. A total of 1,073 bills have been passed by the Texas Legislature.
Abbott vetoed 13 bills drafted by Democrats and seven by Republicans. Twelve of the vetoes were against House bills, and eight were from the Senate.
His most explosive veto came on Friday when he signed the state budget, but used his section veto to reject funding for the Texas Legislature, its employees and legislative agencies. The move was retribution after Democrats broke the quorum in the closing days of the session to block passage of Senate Bill 7, a GOP elections bill that would have overhauled voting rights in the state.
Abbott’s office declined to comment for this story.
Criminal justice priorities
Among the bills Abbott vetoed over the weekend was Bill 686 – which would have allowed earlier parole eligibility for inmates convicted of certain crimes if they had. under 18 at the time of the crime. The bill would have required parole boards to consider the inmate’s age and mental state at the time of the crime, among other factors, in determining parole eligibility.
House Bill 686 was drafted by Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, and included in Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan’s bipartisan criminal justice priority package titled âSmarter Justice, Safer Texasâ.
In his veto statement, Abbott said that while he praised the bill’s originator for promoting and recognizing the rehabilitation of young inmates, he felt the bill conflicted with the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. , “which would lead to unnecessary and disruptive confusion and litigation.”
Moody and Phelan declined to comment for this story.
Another House Criminal Justice Priority Bill was opposed to Senate Bill 281 from State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, which called for a ban on the use of statements obtained by hypnosis in a criminal court. If passed, the bill would have helped end a controversial practice that Texas law enforcement has used nearly 1,800 times in the past 40 years, according to a Dallas Morning News investigation.
Abbott said he opposed a late amendment to the bill that would have prevented statements a person makes long after hypnosis is used as evidence in a criminal trial. He said the change “would dramatically expand its reach in an unacceptable way.”
Hinojosa could not be reached for comment.
Another bill that was vetoed by Abbott was Senate Bill 474, known as the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act. The bill would have made it illegal to chain dogs and leave them without drinking water, adequate shade or shelter. He also called for a ban on tying dogs with heavy chains.
âI am disappointed with the governor,â said Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville. âI don’t agree with everything he does, but I respect him when it comes to quality of life and protection of life. I want to include the dogs in this issue.
Abbott said Texas already had laws in place to protect dogs from animal cruelty, and the penalties proposed in Lucio’s bill appeared excessive.
âTexas is not a place for this kind of micro-management and excessive criminalization,â he said in the veto statement.
Shelby Bobosky, executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, a nonprofit that advocates for animal rights, said members of the organization are devastated by the veto and that the bill would have “clarified the vague language that makes the law completely unenforceable.
“All of the things Governor Abbott cited as ‘micromanagement’ were carefully negotiated compromises that addressed the concerns of lawmakers on both sides to strike the right balance for our diverse state,” she said in a statement. âPassing the bill in both houses with overwhelming bipartisan support from members in rural, urban and suburban areas is the result of six years of tireless efforts by THLN and all stakeholders who care for dogs. inhumanely held outside. “
Animal-loving Texans created the #AbbottHatesDogs hashtag on Twitter to express their disdain for the veto.
âIt’s not a political issue with me – it’s a human issue,â Lucio said. âWe have to do our best to take care of them. “
A key issue for the legislative session was to protect and expand broadband access, especially in rural Texas. House Bill 2667 reportedly provided aid to the Universal Service Fund for Texans.
Abbott named broadband access as one of his priority items for the legislative session, but he rejected the bill saying it would have imposed more taxes on Texans everywhere.
The bill proposed that people receiving assistance through the Texas Universal Service Fund – which helps state residents receive basic telecommunications services – be charged a universal fee for the services. An analysis of the bill indicated that recent decisions by the Texas Utilities Commission, which funds the TUSF, put customers in rural areas at risk of losing phone service or paying high costs for the services. .
âWhat a lot of people don’t understand is that there are still parts of Texas, including parts of the rural district that I represent, where you don’t have internet access, some areas don’t. no access to cell service and even some areas do not have access to landlines, âsaid Rep. John E. Smithee, a Republican representing the Dallas area.
He also said broadband expansion was also enacted through other measures, such as Senate Bill 5. This established the creation of the State Broadband Development Office, designed to extend high-speed Internet access, through the University of Texas system.
Abbott also vetoed Senate Bill 1109, which would have required middle school and high school students to learn about prevention of child abuse, family violence and dating violence. He said in his veto explanation that he opposed the legislation because it does not give parents the option to opt out of education.
Abbott also vetoed Senate Bill 237 which would have reduced penalties for criminal trespassing by allowing police to âsummon and releaseâ individuals instead of arresting them. Abbott said the change would have a “troubling impact” on businesses and homeowners in Austin who “rely” on criminal trespassing arrests of homeless people who refuse to leave their properties. He said it would also run counter to arrests in border communities.
“This would allow (and attempt) the agencies to categorically mandate citation and release for this crime, removing an important tool for officers to keep Texans safe,” Abbott wrote.
All of Abbott’s veto statements released on Monday are available here.
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