On Tuesday, several bills that would punish localities for defunding law enforcement were considered in the Texas House Ways and Means Committee.
The first proposal discussed was House Bill 2438 by State Rep. Morgan Meyer (R–Dallas), the chairman of the committee. During Meyer’s summarization of the bill, he pointed out that homicide and burglary skyrocketed after cities like Austin cut police funding, ultimately putting the general public in greater danger.
Meyer also mentioned that police resignations jumped by 83 percent after Texas cities started defunding police. If passed, cities that defund their police departments would be “penalized” by not being able to raise their property taxes above the no-new-revenue rate. Acts considered as “defunding” would include making cuts to law enforcement appropriations and overtime funding.
But the committee substitute, a version of the bill brought up in committee that is different than the originally filed version, narrowed the bill’s scope. The committee substitute no longer applies to counties, only municipalities with a population of 250,000 or higher.
There were many testimonies, mostly neither for or against the bill, with one against.
A spokesman from the Austin Police Department—whose budget was cut by a third by the Austin City Council last year—came to testify against the bill, claiming to be unhappy with his department’s elimination of positions but adding he believed the bill would be an infringement upon local control, authorizing an unjust expansion of state power.
House Bill 3021 by State Rep. DeWayne Burns (R–Cleburne), another bill penalizing police defunding, would make the comptroller withhold sales tax funds from cities with 250,000 or more that defund police, to make up for costs of providing DPS troopers to said cities.
These initiatives have been named a priority by Gov. Greg Abbott and were deemed emergency items in his State of the State address in February.
The bills were left pending in committee.