Two Texas lawmakers are teaming up to rein in rogue district attorneys who refuse to enforce the law.

State Rep. David Cook (R–Mansfield) and State Sen. Tan Parker (R–Flower Mound) partnered together to file House Bill 1350 and Senate Bill 378, which would permit the attorney general to file suit against district attorneys, criminal district attorneys, and county attorneys who willfully disregard Texas law.

Both proposals state that “a prosecuting attorney may not adopt or enforce a policy under which the prosecuting attorney prohibits or materially limits the enforcement of any criminal offense.” The bills also mention that district attorneys cannot prohibit peace officers from enforcing any criminal offense.

The legislation comes after some district attorneys in cities around Texas claimed they will not prosecute abortion crimes. Notably, Travis County District Attorney Jose Garcia said last summer that he would not criminalize “personal health care decisions.” Parker and Cook are filing legislation to “rein in” district attorneys who disregard Texas law.

“Carte blanche public pronouncements by district attorneys that laws we have on the books will be ignored renders the authority of the Legislature to determine what is and isn’t a crime, moot. It is my intention to rein in renegade district attorneys and ensure the rule of law is respected in Texas,” Cook said.

In addition, both bills would give the attorney general the power to sue any district attorney who violates the law, including being subject to a fee of $1,500 in their first offense and up to $25,500 for each additional violation. District attorneys are also subject to being removed from their seats if they violate the law.

Sen. Parker also remarked that this legislation would ensure that DAs are working to protect the public rather than pursuing their own agenda or political goals.

“We know that certain policies adopted by some district attorneys in our state have hindered the enforcement of criminal offenses, thereby placing the public at risk,” Parker said. “This is unacceptable, and action must be taken to ensure that district attorneys are held accountable for their actions and carry out their duties by enforcing the laws we have on our books.”

Emily Wilkerson

Emily is a summer fellow for Texas Scorecard. She is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, studying journalism with a minor in political science. She enjoys investigative journalism and making sure that every side of a story is being told.

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