AUSTIN – Tuesday, June 1, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law four major public safety bills that will enhance and better protect Texans and law enforcement officers. State Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) supported the public safety priority bills and served as joint author or co-author of the three that originated as House bills. The fourth measure was first filed in the state Senate.
“I want to keep our communities safe from harm and will do all I can to protect our communities and support our law enforcement,” Ellzey said. “In addition to supporting our law enforcement fiscally, laws we passed this session make the streets safer for law enforcement. These bills are important steps in the right direction, and I am proud to have made these strides during this recent legislative session.”
House bills 2366, 9 and 1900, along with Senate Bill 23, had all been designated as priority bills by Abbott, with HB 1900 and SB 23 also designated as emergency items.
Ellzey was joint author for HB 2366 and co-author of HBs 9 and 1900, and supported the Senate’s bill.
Details of the bills are as follows:
• HB 2366 – Increases penalties for injuring law enforcement by using a laser pointer or fireworks as a weapon against law enforcement. Passed the House 119-12; passed the Senate 29-1.
• HB 9 – Enhances the penalty for obstructing a highway or other passageway from a class B misdemeanor to a state jail felony for an actor who knowingly prevents the passage of an authorized emergency vehicle. Passed the House 90-55; passed the Senate 24-6.
• HB 1900 – Designates a municipality reducing appropriations to its police department year-over-year as a defunding municipality, resulting in restrictions placed on its powers with regard to annexation, taxation, and charges from a municipality-owned utility until the reductions are reversed. Passed the House 90-49, with a subsequent 88-57 vote on concurrence to Senate amendments; passed the Senate 23-3.
• SB 23 – Requires an election in state’s five largest Texas counties (those counties with a population of 1 million or more) to approve a reduction or reallocation of funding or resources for certain county law enforcement agencies. Passed the Senate 28-2; passed the House 86-59 with amendments. Conference committee requested. Senate passed the conference committee report (vote not immediately available); House passed the conference committee report (112-26 unofficial).
“In Texas, we don’t defund law enforcement, we back law enforcement,” Ellzey said. “I am proud to have co-authored HB 1900 creating significant consequences for cities defunding the police. Defunding the police puts the community and officers in danger. While we passed positive law enforcement reforms, I support and will continue to support enforcement.
“In regard to HB 2366, it hits close to home,” he said. “I have mentioned before that, as a pilot, I have been lased and it damages eyesight and obstructs vision. Both laser pointers and fireworks can have grave consequences when used as a weapon. People using them as a weapon must pay a heavier penalty for their actions.”
For information on bills filed in past and present legislatures, visit online at https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/.