On June 1, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made good on a promise he made in May to sign laws that support law enforcement and penalize cities that shift their funds from police departments, or “defund the police,” in common phrasing.
The group of bills, dubbed “back the blue” bills, have different purposes. House Bill 1900 allow the state to redirect the sales tax proceeds of cities to the Texas Department of Public Safety if those cities make moves to defund their law enforcement. Senate Bill 23 requires counties of more than 1 million to hold elections before reducing or reallocating funds from law enforcement budgets. House Bill 9 requires that individuals who knowingly block emergency vehicles or emergency entrances to hospitals be jailed. And, House Bill 2366 makes the act of using fireworks to interfere with police activity, or pointing a laser pointer at police actions that can be punished with felony charges.
“Signed several pieces of legislation into law that will stop cities from defunding the police & enhance penalties for criminal activities that interfere with or harm law enforcement. #BackTheBlue #txlege,” Abbott wrote in a June 1 tweet.
Abbott’s actions were prompted after the Austin Police allegedly had a 16-minute response time to a shooting incident in May which involved multiple motorists, according to a report by the Dallas Express. After the incident, Abbott issued a statement via his Twitter account.
“This is what defunding the police looks like,” Abbott wrote in a May 23 tweet. “Austin is incapable of timely responding to a victim shot in the head. Texas won’t tolerate this. We’re about to pass a law that I will sign that will prevent cities from defunding police. Sanity and safety will return.”
The next day, Abbott said that the legislation to keep municipalities from defunding the police was a priority.