After a legislative session that saw several pieces of key conservative legislation die, Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a key public safety measure into law that advocates say will help to give resources to law enforcement and hold rogue prosecutors accountable.

“One thing that we all agree upon is providing resources that will make our communities safer, as well as supporting our law enforcement in the State of Texas,” Abbott said during his first public signing ceremony at the Capitol this year. “Today, I’m here to sign eight public safety bills from the regular session that serve to protect Texans and hold criminals accountable. One of those bills holds rogue district attorneys accountable. If a rogue district attorney wants to be in law enforcement, they have to start by enforcing the laws of the State of Texas. We will sign bills that rein in the rash of illegal street racing. Law enforcement needs more and better tools to crack down on street racing in Texas communities.”

House Bill 17 by State Rep. David Cook (R–Mansfield) will require the enforcement of criminal laws by prohibiting prosecutors—both district and county attorneys alike—from adopting policies preventing the enforcement of certain laws.

House Bill 28 by State Rep. Shelby Slawson (R–Stephenville) will enhance the criminal penalty for aggravated assault from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony if a deadly weapon was used in an assault and resulted in paralysis.

House Bill 1442 by State Rep. Ann Johnson (D–Houston) will provide law enforcement personnel and prosecutors with additional resources needed to pursue organized street racing and street takeovers in Texas. The measure was spurred by incidents around Austin that resulted in some officers being injured.

House Bill 2899 by State Rep. Mihaela Plesa (D–Dallas) will allow for immediate removal of vehicles used in street racing or reckless driving from the road. The legislation also removes the current requirement that a vehicle be impounded only in the event of property damage or injuries. Instead, it now allows impounding the vehicle if the owner is charged with racing or exhibiting reckless driving.

Senate Bill 22 by State Sen. Drew Springer Jr. (R–Muenster) establishes the Rural Sheriff’s Office Salary Assistance Grant Program and the Rural Prosecutor’s Office Salary Assistance Grant Program for counties with a population of 300,000 or less. The bill allows for an increase in salaries for sheriffs, prosecutors, and their staff, as well as aid to purchase equipment for their departments.

Abbott was also joined by Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) President Marvin Ryals, who applauded the signing of HB 17.

“We at CLEAT want to thank Governor Abbott for working with us and allowing us to present the working law enforcement officer’s side of proposed legislation,” Ryals said. “House Bill 17 begins the process of allowing the citizens of Texas to be able to hold some of these out-of-control District Attorneys accountable for intentionally and arrogantly refusing to do their constitutional duty by enforcing the criminal laws of Texas. Governor, we believe you are the strongest voice for law enforcement officers in the nation. Thank you for signing these pro-law enforcement and public safety bills today.”

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.