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Do Gov. Greg Abbott’s legislative proposals to curb rioting and violent protests go far enough?

In an interview on The Luke Macias Show, attorney and former State Rep. Matt Rinaldi discussed the latest legislative proposals announced by Gov. Greg Abbott, which seek to raise criminal penalties for the following:

  • Causing injury or destroying property during a riot
  • Striking a law enforcement officer during a riot
  • Using lasers to target officers during a riot
  • Blocking hospital entrances and exits and using fireworks at riots
  • Aiding and abetting riots, which would also be a felony and subject to civil actions by the Texas Attorney General

As Rinaldi pointed out, these legislative proposals aren’t completely original. Instead, they are largely lifted from a similar package proposed by Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

“Governor Abbott—like he has been on reopening, like he has been on everything else—is following DeSantis decidedly, making decisions afterwards. Desantis came out with a proposal to combat rioting. And then about a week later, Governor Abbott came out with his proposal, which included portions of DeSantis’ proposal but left out the good stuff,” said Rinaldi.

The core problem with Abbott’s plan, Rinaldi argues, is that most of the proposals fall on district attorneys to prosecute—most of whom are Democrats in the urban counties where rioting is most likely to occur.

“Really the problem … is that Democrat district attorneys are not enforcing the current laws we have against things like arson and assault and letting these rioters free,” said Rinaldi.

“If they’re not enforcing the law now, they’re not going to enforce this,” he added.

In contrast, Rinaldi argued, DeSantis included three important proposals that Abbott left off his list.

The first is victim compensation, which waives sovereign immunity to allow a victim of a riot-related crime to sue local government for damages where the local government is grossly negligent in protecting persons and property.

“That goes right to the heart of the DAs, and the cities that are electing these DAs, financially. That will actually have a real effect,” said Rinaldi.

The second of DeSantis’ proposals is creating a third-degree felony for obstructing traffic during a riot, making it so that drivers are not liable for injury or death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob, which Rinaldi said was “notably absent from Abbott’s proposals.”

Lastly, Rinaldi highlighted the third proposal from DeSantis, which would terminate state benefits and makes anyone ineligible for employment by state or local government if convicted of participating in a riot.

“We saw many public school teachers were arrested in Portland and put right back on the street. You shouldn’t be working for the government if you’re participating … and Abbott left these off, I think, because they were the points that Democrats objected to very vocally,” said Rinaldi. 

“They are the points that actually make a difference, and he left them out. And that’s why I think his proposals won’t really have much real-world effect,” he added.

The full interview with Matt Rinaldi and Warren Norred on The Luke Macias Show can be viewed here: