Governor Abbott signs Back The Blue Legislation

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, June 2, 2021

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AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott, on Tuesday, signed several pieces of legislation into law that will stop cities from defunding the police and enhance penalties for criminal activities that interfere with or harm law enforcement. The Governor was joined for the bill signing by members of the Texas Legislature, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, the Texas Fraternal Order of Police, the Texas Municipal Police Association, the Austin Police Association, the Texas State Troopers Association, and the Justices of the Peace and Constables Association of Texas. The Governor made preventing cities from defunding the police an emergency item this session.

“The men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line every day to keep Texans safe, and they deserve our enduring support and gratitude,” said Governor Abbott. “Efforts to defund the police are downright dangerous, and these laws will prevent cities from making this reckless decision. These laws also help protect our law enforcement officers in the line of duty by enhancing penalties for crimes committed against them such as using fireworks or laser pointers to harm or obstruct the police. With these laws, we are bolstering our support for law enforcement while ensuring a safer future for all Texans. I applaud the Texas Legislature for joining me in passing these priority items and for making sure Texas remains a law-and-order state.”

HOUSE BILL 9 (Klick/Campbell) enhances the criminal penalty to a state jail felony offense for anyone who knowingly blocks an emergency vehicle or obstructs access to a hospital or health care facility.

HOUSE BILL 1900 (Goldman/Huffman) freezes property tax revenues for cities with a population over 250,000 that defund the police. Under this law, cities that defund the police will lose their annexation powers for 10 years and any area annexed by a defunding city in the past 30 years can vote to dis-annex from the city. It also allows the State of Texas to withhold sales taxes collected by a defunding city and give it to the Texas Department of Public Safety to pay for the cost of state resources used to protect residents of a defunded municipality.

HOUSE BILL 2366 (Buckley/Hughes) enhances criminal penalties for the use of laser pointers and creates an offense for the use of fireworks to harm or obstruct the police.

SENATE BILL 23 (Huffman/Oliverson) requires voter approval to reduce law enforcement budgets in counties with a population of more than one million. If voter approval is not received, but the county still defunds the police, the county’s property tax revenue will be frozen.