Despite Texas Republicans rallying against placing Democrats in leadership positions in the Texas Legislature, Democrat State Rep. Abel Herrero of Robstown is one of nine Democrats appointed to chair a committee in the Republican-controlled Texas House this legislative session.
The Corrections Committee is tasked with overseeing all matters pertaining to “the incarceration and rehabilitation of convicted felons; the establishment and maintenance of programs that provide alternatives to incarceration; and the following state agencies: the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Special Prosecution Unit, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, the Texas Civil Commitment Office, and the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments.”
Although Herrero was not one of 68 Democrats who busted quorum during the first legislative special session in 2021 to avoid passing election integrity legislation, he said he “fully supported” their efforts and had to stay behind due to “responsibilities in the district.”
With a career rating of “F” from Texas for Fiscal Responsibility, Herrero regularly votes for tax hikes and additional regulations for businesses and citizens. Young Conservatives of Texas gave Herrero a rating of 21 out of 100 due to his vote record of expanding government and supporting corporate welfare as well as taxpayer-funded lobbying. Texas Right to Life gave Herrero a rating of 30 out of 100 due to his voting against the Heartbeat Act, which prohibited abortions after the baby has a detectable heartbeat.
However, Environment Texas, which supports unreliable energy schemes, rates Herrero at 100; Equality Texas, the pro-LGBT political advocacy group, gives Herrero a “B+” rating.
Herrero’s oversight of the Corrections Committee, in addition to the committee being majority Democrat, raises concerns over what legislation will pass out of the committee, considering some of the Texas Democrat Party planks regarding incarceration:
- Develop appropriate protocols for members of the LGBTQIA+ community who seek to be accommodated on the basis of gender identity or expression, including appropriate gender conforming medical care.
- Being an unauthorized immigrant in the U.S. is a federal civil offense but not a crime, so we must stop bypassing civil immigration law by arresting immigrants for trespass.
- Eliminate mandatory minimums, “three-strikes” laws, other sentencing restrictions, and allow judges to use discretion in sentencing when the specifics of the situation justify it.
- Abolish the death penalty.
Texans concerned about Herrero’s appointment can find contact information for House Speaker Phelan in Texas Scorecard’s Elected Officials Directory.