By Nicole Silverio
The Texas state House of Representatives approved a bill to financially penalize large Texan cities that defund police in a preliminary vote Thursday.
The state House advanced H.B. 1900, which would penalize cities that defund police if they have a population of over 250,000 people by allocating the city’s sales tax money to the Texas Department of Public Safety and be banned from increasing property tax rates, in a vote of 91-55, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Republican state Rep. Craig Goldman, the author of the bill, said the legislation will prevent cities in the state of Texas from defunding their police departments.
“As municipalities across this nation are defunding their police departments, are taking money away from the police budgets and putting them elsewhere in their city budgets, this bill makes sure that in the state of Texas, that is not going to be allowed,” Goldman said on the House floor Thursday.
Democratic state Rep. Richard Raymond, who co-authored the bill along with three Republicans, said the state needs to invest in training for law enforcement officers.
“You invest more in training our law enforcement officers, not less. That’s how you make it better,” Raymond said, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The only exception to defunding police departments is if the slash of funding is proportionate to the city’s overall budget decrease and if there is an increase in their expenses from underlying issues, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The state Senate passed a similar measure in April titled SB 23, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Joan Hoffman, that requires cities and towns to hold elections before defunding police, The Texas Tribune reported.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbot had previously signed a pledge with the promise of supporting law enforcement and strip annexation powers away from cities that cut police budgets, KXAN reported. The governor expressed his support for the bill in a tweet Thursday evening.
This is excellent.
The Texas House is passing a law that cracks down on cities that try to defund police.
In Texas, we don’t demonize or defund the police.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 6, 2021
Democratic state Rep. Jasmine Crockett said the bill fails to address issues of police brutality and that legislators are attacking those who are fighting to help citizens.
“This summer we saw protests in the streets, we also saw elected officials decide to make decisions because of police brutality,” she said on the House floor. “We refuse to improve policing in this state. Instead, we attack those who are trying to care for our citizens.”
The city of Austin removed $150 million from their police budgets in 2020 and reallocated the money towards transitioning police’s duties into city jobs. Some of the money went towards housing and mental health services, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The legislation needs a final vote from the House before heading to the Senate. If the bill reaches the governor’s desk, it is expected to go into effect on Sept. 1, 2021, according to KXAN.
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