Two pieces of border security legislation received approval from the Texas House late Tuesday evening.
The Senate already passed both measures last week.
Senate Bill 3 provides $1.5 billion for the maintenance, operation, and construction of border barrier infrastructure. It also sets aside $40 million for the Texas Department of Public Safety to use for policing the Colony Ridge development.
SB 3 expects to increase Texas’ border walls to more than 100 miles of non-continuous border wall. Of the $1.5 billion, $1.2 billion is being set aside for border wall construction, with the construction expected to occur in Maverick, Starr, Val Verde, and Webb counties.
Lawmakers accepted an amendment to the measure from State Rep. Tracy King (D-Uvalde) that seeks to divert some of the funding to local law enforcement in order to deal with the costs associated with Senate Bill 4.
In a vote of 86-56, the House approved SB 3 on second reading.
Senate Bill 4 creates a new state crime for entering Texas illegally and authorizes Texas law enforcement to arrest and prosecute all people who cross the border illegally anywhere in Texas.
Punishment starts with up to 6 months in jail for a first-time offender and two years in state jail for a second-time offender.
Illegal border crossers can be returned to the port of entry and ordered to leave the country, or face stiffer penalties.
Although several Democrats attempted to include amendments to weaken the measure, all amendments failed to be approved.
In total, 52 amendments were filed. However, by the time House lawmakers got through amendment 14, State Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) filed a motion to end debate and vote on the measure. It passed.
In a vote of 83-60, the House approved SB 4 on second reading.
The House immediately moved to the third reading of the measures.
SB 3 passed in a final vote of 84-59. SB 4 passed in a final vote of 83-61.
SB 3 must return to the Senate for approval due to the additional amendment added in the House. SB 4 will now move to the governor’s desk.
The Texas House is expected to take up legislation on school choice and education funding when lawmakers return on Friday.
The fourth special session expires on December 6.