87th Texas Legislature

Texas Senate Debates ‘Police Defunding' Bill

House Bill 1900 would penalize the biggest cities in Texas if they reduced the budget of their police departments

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A Texas Senate committee is debating the merits of House Bill 1900 on Thursday, which would aim to punish big cities that move to defund their police departments.

The Republican-backed bill was part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s list of emergency items for the legislature to take up this session.

The push to "Defund the Police" has grown in the wake of nationwide protests during the summer of 2020 in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In general, the purpose of defunding police departments would be to shift money away from policing in a community and shift it towards social services, like housing assistance and mental health services, that could help to reduce crime in other ways.

So far only one major Texas city – Austin – has made any serious effort to defund its police department, when city council members voted to shift about 7 percent of the police budget, around $30 million, toward social service efforts.

House Bill 1900 would target cities with 250,000 or more people – Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso, Arlington, Corpus Christi, Plano, Laredo, and Lubbock.

If a city reduced its police budget, without making a proportional reduction to the rest of its city budget, that city would authorize the state of Texas to take a portion of the city’s sales tax revenue and divert it to the State Department of Public Safety, The bill would also prevent that city from raising other taxes, like property taxes, to offset those losses.

The Texas House of Representatives has already passed House Bill 1900.

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