Texas House Provides Preliminary Approval of Bill Preventing Cities from Defunding Police
We're into the final month of the 87th Legislature in Austin and the Texas House on Thursday provided preliminary approval of a major bill with bipartisan support.
HB 1900 is a bill which would prevent 'large-sized' Texas cities, with a population over 250,000, from defunding their police department. HB 1900 passed the House on Thursday by a 91-55 vote, with bipartisan support.
Numerous West Texas Representatives voted in favor of the bill, including: Rep. John Frullo, Rep. Dustin Burrows, Rep. Four Price, Rep. Tom Craddick, Rep. Drew Darby, Rep. Stan Lambert, Rep. Brooks Landgraf, and Rep. John Smithee.
The version of the bill debated on the House floor on Thursday contained a few exceptions concerning a potential reduction in funding for a police department. One of the exceptions is if a city reduces their overall total budget entering a new fiscal year, then the police department's budget may be reduced up to the same percentage that the city's total budget is reduced.
There are also provisions in the bill that would allow the state to reprimand cities that are deemed to have “defunded” their police departments.
The Texan also reports that HB 1900 includes the ability for the state to:
"...freeze a municipality’s property taxes the fiscal year following the budget cut. Other punishments include triggering an automatic de-annexation election for parts of the municipality in question that were annexed in the last 30 years; prohibit new annexation for 10 years; and trigger funding for state law enforcement to fill the gap.
This bill got on to lawmakers' radar after the Austin City Council reduced their police department's budget by $150 million in August of last year, while in the face of rising violent crime statistics.
At the start of the 87th Legislature in January, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said, “Defunding the police is reckless and endangers the lives of people in communities across the entire state.” He said the bill is one of his legislative priorities.
A second reading of the bill must be passed by the Texas House before it moves on to the Senate.