Abbott veto 20 bills, including dog cruelty measure


Ordinary Legislative Session veto ended with Governor Greg Abbott prevent 20 bills from becoming law, including efforts to protect dogs from dangerous restraints and allow police to issue trespassing citations.

Abbott also vetoed legislation requiring middle and high schools to provide courses on preventing child abuse, family violence and dating violence.

Although the topics are important, Senate Bill 1109 “does not recognize the right of parents to remove their children from education,” Abbott said in a declaration accompanying its veto.

“I have already vetoed similar legislation on this ground because we need to protect parental rights regarding this type of instruction,” he wrote.

The governor also opposed SB 474, which sought to prohibit owners from tying unsupervised dogs outdoors without giving them access to adequate shelter, shade and water.

Forcing dogs to lie down in standing water, feces or urine would also be against the law.

Abbott said the bill would be unfairly requiring dog owners to monitor collar tailoring and tether-to-dog length reporting, imposing a fine of up to $ 500, with up to 180 days in jail for those previously convicted of illegal restraint.

In addition to prohibiting chains with attached weights, SB 474 would have prohibited ties less than 10 feet or “five times the length of the dog, measured from the tip of the dog’s nose to the base of the dog’s tail.”

The measure would also have required appropriately sized collars that do not suffocate or impede breathing or cause pain or injury.

“Texas is not a place for this kind of micromanagement and overcriminalization,” Abbott wrote, saying animal cruelty laws already protect dogs.

The Texas Humane Legislative Network spent six years working to pass the bill, and its members were devastated by the veto, executive director Shelby Bobosky said.

“This bill – which was passed with the active support of sheriffs, law enforcement and animal control offers – would have clarified the vague language that makes the law completely unenforceable,” Bobosky said. “Everything 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.”

Austin-focused vetoes

Another Abbott veto killed a bipartisan effort to reduce the burden on overworked courts by giving police the discretion to issue a felony trespassing summons, a misdemeanor, instead of bringing the suspect to a judge.

SB 237 could also help officers remove relatively minor infractions quickly so they can focus on serious issues, according to bill co-authors Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, and Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas. .

But Abbott said the bill would prompt local authorities to impose “cite and publish” policies, “removing an important tool from officers to keep Texans safe.”

“This would have a particularly disturbing impact in the city of Austin, where local voters recently condemned the city’s self-inflicted homelessness crisis, as businesses and homeowners rely on felony arrests to protect themselves. and protect their guests from homeless people who refuse to leave their property “, Abbott wrote in his veto statement.

Abbott also targeted Austin by cutting Bill 3135, which was aimed at helping land development east of the city.

The governor said the legislation would levy special taxes on residential properties, allowing Austin to annex the area later “without bearing the cost.”

Abbott’s 20 vetoes – plus his veto money budgeted for the legislature in retaliation for a walkout by House Democrats that killed his priority election bill – were down from the 58 vetoes he he issued after the 2019 session and his 51 vetoes in 2017.

Sunday was the deadline for vetoes, and the governor’s actions have left more than 1,050 new laws in Texas, most of which will come into effect on September 1. according to the legislative reference library.

The new laws, however, will not include several measures regarding the criminal justice system, including efforts to help juvenile offenders:

HB 686, known as the second look bill, would have relaxed parole eligibility for long-serving inmates sentenced as minors, and HB 1193 would have broadened the power of juvenile court judges to seal criminal records.

Abbott complained that the first bill in conflict with jury instructions required by law, resulting in confusion and possibly prosecution, and HB 1193 “would allow juveniles convicted of serious violent crimes to conceal their actions from society and future employers, ”he wrote.

HB 787 reportedly limited the ability of judges to bar people on probation from having contact with people with criminal backgrounds, noting that many useful support groups and treatment programs are run or attended by former inmates.

Abbott objected by saying judges must have the discretion to protect public safety by imposing “suitable conditions” on parole.

SB 281 reportedly banned the use of hypnosis-induced statements in criminal trials, which studies have shown to provide unreliable eyewitness identification evidence. Abbott did not issue a veto statement.

• While the governor said he was in favor of reducing non-compliance with a fire marshal’s order to a single offense, he vetoed HB 1240 as going too far because it allowed Harris County and several surrounding counties to designate officials who could issue criminal citations even if they are not judicial officers.

SB 1458 has sought to demand the use of standard forms for court-issued protection and emergency orders, helping law enforcement quickly determine who is prohibited from having firearms, but Abbott opposed his veto the bill, saying he feared orders could be overturned by courts that did not use the prescribed form.

Another measure that will not become law was HB 2803, which would allow commercial tenants to break a lease if the landlord also rented space from a massage company engaged in prostitution or human trafficking. Abbott said the process was ripe for abuse by disgruntled tenants.

Abbott also vetoed the innocent Texas Pollinator-Smart program, which encouraged conservation measures to protect declining bees from habitat loss on solar farms.

Participation in the pollinator program was entirely voluntary under SB 1772. “Voluntary laws are not necessary to guide public behavior” he wrote.

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