AUSTIN, TX — Two bills that aim at stopping large cities in Texas from defunding their police departments are headed to Governor Greg Abbott's desk.
House Bill 1900 and Senate Bill 23 would financially penalize cities if they cut their police budgets.
House Bill 1900 specifically would penalize municipalities with more than 250,000 residents.
Senate Bill 23 would penalize counties with more than a million residents.
HOUSE BILL 1900:
According to The Texas Tribune, HB 1900 would allow the state to appropriate a part of the city's sales taxes to pay for the Texas Department of Public Safety if the Governor's office determined that a city had cut police funding.
These cities would be banned from increasing property taxes or utility rates, which could be used to make up for reapportioned sales taxes.
Republican State Representatives Craig Goldman, Will Metcalf, Greg Bonnen and Angie Chen Button and Democrat Richard Peña Raymond authored HB 1900.
The bill does allow cities to cut police department budgets as long as a decrease is equal to an overall city budget decrease.
Another way cities can receive approval to cut police department budgets is if expenses for one year were higher sue to capital expenditures or disaster responses.
The bill also allows neighborhoods that have been annexed in the past 30 years to vote to de-annex themselves from a city that decreased its police department funding.
SENATE BILL 23:
According to The Texas Tribune, Senate Bill 23 would only apply to counties with a population higher than one million residents.
SB 23 would require cities or counties to hold an election before they reduce police funding.
Currently, the only counties affected are Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis counties. THis may change as more census data are released this year.
The bill was authored by state Senator Joan Huffman of Houston.
According to The Texas Tribune, both legislative pieces were introduced in response to the city council of Austin cutting its police budget.
The cut came from a shift in accounting that allows traditional police duties to remain funded by potentially different city departments.
Nearly $31 million was cut from the police budget and was redirected to other public services.
The decision was immediately met with backlash from state leaders that aim to stop efforts aimed at defunding the police.
The Governor has fought to keep police funding in place and made penalizing cities that cut police funding an emergency issue in the 2021 Legislative Session.
Read more about what Central Texans think about these bills here.