Legislative pay, dog cruelty and criminal justice reform. These bills were vetoed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Governor vetoed 21 bills in total

Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed 21 bills passed in the 87th Texas Legislature.
Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed 21 bills passed in the 87th Texas Legislature.

Though most of the roughly 3,000 bills passed by the 87th Texas Legislature were signed into law, a few notable vetoes by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have caught the attention of some critics.

According to Texas’ Legislative Reference Library, Abbott vetoed 21 bills that were passed by lawmakers over the past year. The full list of vetoed bills can be found here, but here are some of the more notable vetoes.

Dog cruelty bill

Though Texas has already passed a law years ago that prohibits owners from tethering their dogs outside in inhumane ways, animal advocates lobbied lawmakers to reform the bill. SB 474 would have enacted those reforms, which included the repeal of a 24-hour notice requirement to dog owners before officers can step in to stop the inhumane restraint of a dog.

Abbott vetoed the bill, saying the bill was too onerous on dog owners because owners would have to monitor the fit of the dog’s collar and ensure the leash is long enough to fit a ratio as prescribed by the bill. Those requirements, Abbott said, amounted to “micro-managing and over-criminalization.”

The veto spawned a viral hashtag on Twitter — #AbbottHatesDogs.

Dating violence

SB 1109 would have required public schools to provide instructions and materials aimed at preventing dating violence, family violence and child abuse. Students would be taught about dating violence preventing one time between middle school and junior high and two times in high school. The bill was named after Christine Blubaugh, a Grand Prairie teenager who was killed by her boyfriend in 2000.

Abbott opposed the bill because it would not allow parents the option to opt out of those instructions. Though Abbott said dating violence is an “important subject,” he said his priority is to “safeguard parental rights.”

Forensic hypnosis

After a Dallas Morning News investigation exposed issues on how Texas police agencies use hypnosis during criminal investigations, lawmakers came together to pass SB 281, which would have made evidence extracted through hypnosis inadmissible in trial.

Abbott vetoed the bill due to a House amendment that he said was too broad.

“The sponsor added language so that for any person who has undergone investigative hypnosis, all statements that person makes ‘after’ the hypnosis—even ones made long ‘after’ the hypnosis session and unrelated to that session—are barred from being admitted into evidence in any criminal trial,” Abbott said, suggesting that defendants would have “lifetime immunity” after undergoing hypnosis.

Criminal justice reform

HB 686, would have provided an opportunity to release more juvenile offenders convicted for capital or first-degree felonies on parole.

Under current law, juveniles who are convicted of serious crimes often cannot be released for parole until late into their adulthoods, despite the fact they have been too immature to understand the consequences of their actions. The bill would have parole panels take certain factors into account when deciding on a potential release on parole, like the greater capacity of juveniles for change and the diminished culpability of juveniles.

Abbott said that the bill’s language conflicts with jury instructions required by law and would “result in confusion and needless, disruptive litigation.”

Abbott also vetoed SB 237, which would have made criminal trespass a Class B misdemeanor, making it eligible for an officer to cite and release as opposed to arresting the offender.

Legislative pay

Upset over the Texas House Democrats’ walkout during the closing moments of the session to kill a restrictive voting bill, Abbott partially vetoed SB 1, which deals with the state’s budget.

The veto will withhold pay for the Legislature. Lawmakers are only paid $600 a month, but the veto also slashes the budgets for thousands of employees and agencies that help the Legislature operate, meaning the veto goes beyond just punishing Democrats.

“Texans don’t run from a legislative fight, and they don’t walk away from unfinished business,” Abbott said in his veto statement. “Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session.”

Because the legislative session is over, lawmakers are unable to override any of Abbott’s vetoes.

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About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.