SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Eight public safety bills are now signed into law in Texas.
Governor Greg Abbott signed the legislation on Tuesday, and he says they all contribute to the task of making Texans safer.
“One thing that we all agree upon is providing resources that will make our communities safer, as well as supporting our law enforcement in the State of Texas,” said Governor Abbott. “Today, I’m here to sign eight public safety bills from regular session that serve to protect Texans and hold criminals accountable. One of those bills holds rogue district attorneys accountable. If a rogue district attorney wants to be in law enforcement, they have to start by enforcing the laws of the State of Texas. We will sign bills that rein in the rash of illegal street racing. Law enforcement needs more and better tools to crack down on street racing in Texas communities. I’ll also sign a bill to deter catalytic converter theft, punish criminals who remove ankle monitors, and a law that puts violent criminals behind bars for longer if they leave their victim permanently paralyzed or facing serious brain damage. Additionally, I’m signing a law to provide support for our rural law enforcement officers.”
Governor Abbott was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Senators Carol Alvarado, Paul Bettencourt, Brian Birdwell, Bob Hall, Joan Huffman, and Drew Springer, Representatives David Cook, Frederick Frazier, Stan Gerdes, Ryan Guillen, Jeff Leach, Mihaela Plesa, and Armando Walle, Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) President Marvin Ryals, Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) Executive Director Kevin Lawrence, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, and other public safety advocates.
“We at CLEAT want to thank Governor Abbott for working with us and allowing us to present the working law enforcement officer’s side of proposed legislation,” said CLEAT President Ryals. “House Bill 17 begins the process of allowing the citizens of Texas to be able to hold some of these out-of-control District Attorneys accountable for intentionally and arrogantly refusing to do their constitutional duty by enforcing the criminal laws of Texas. Governor, we believe you are the strongest voice for law enforcement officers in the nation. Thank you for signing these pro-law enforcement and public safety bills today.”
Below is a breakdown of each bill:
House Bill 17 (Cook/Huffman) holds elected prosecutors accountable and prohibits the refusal to prosecute offenses. The bill clarifies that the policy or practice of refusing to prosecute a class or type of offence constitutes official misconduct for the purposes of removal from office.
House Bill 28 (Slawson/Birdwell) enhances the criminal penalty for aggravated assault from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony if a deadly weapon was used in the assault and caused a traumatic brain or spine injury resulting in a persistent state or paralysis.
House Bill 1442 (A. Johnson/Bettencourt)provides law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to go after organized street racing and street takeovers in Texas and elicit more substantial consequences for the perpetrators of these crimes. In February, Governor Abbott announced the launch of a statewide street takeover task force to combat the rise in dangerous street takeovers happening across Texas.
House Bill 2899 (Plesa/Hall) allows immediate removal of vehicles used in street racing or a reckless driving exhibition from the road for the safety of other drivers. The bill removes the current requirement that a vehicle be impounded only if there was property damage or someone suffered bodily injury and instead allows impounding if the owner is charged with racing on a highway or reckless driving exhibition.
Senate Bill 22 (Springer/Guillen)establishes the Rural Sheriff’s Office Salary Assistance Grant Program and the Rural Prosecutor’s Office Salary Assistance Grant Program for counties with a population of 300,000 or less, impacting 236 of Texas’ 254 counties. The bill allows for increases in the salaries of sheriffs, prosecutors, and their staff and provides the ability to hire more staff, as well as aid in the purchasing of necessary vehicles, firearms, and safety equipment.
Senate Bill 840 (West/Anchia)deters and punishes violence against healthcare workers in the workplace by enhancing the penalty for assault from a Class A misdemeanor to a third degree felony if the victim is a hospital employee on hospital property.
Senate Bill 1004 (Huffman/Herrero) serves as a deterrent and increases accountability for parolees who have ankle monitors as part of their conditions of release by making it a state jail felony for anyone to tamper with or remove a required electronic monitoring device. This January, Governor Abbott called for legislative action focused on parolees who cut off their ankle monitor.
Senate Bill 224 (Alvarado/Leach)increases the safety of Texans by penalizing the rapidly growing crime of catalytic converter theft, which has increased 1,200 percent between 2019-2021, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The bill enhances criminal penalties for offenses involving a catalytic converter.