From a resolution honoring the Bowie Knife as the official blade of Texas to a requirement that children under the age of 2 ride in rear-facing car seats, Saturday was a busy day for the Texas Governor’s veto pen.
Gov. Greg Abbott sliced over 50 bills on Saturday, the day before his veto period expired. We covered the first salvo of vetoes here and another fascinating one here, and now have the June 15 deluge chronicled below.
Of the more noteworthy vetoes was of HB 1168, which Abbott explained would prohibit the carrying of weapons in “any part of an airport terminal building, even ahead of the TSA inspection checkpoint.”
Abbott also vetoed a free speech-chilling cyberbullying bill, HB 3490.
A note on the vetoed Bowie knife resolution (HCR 86) of interest to Hayride readers: Abbott mentioned that the famous knife-fight between Jim Bowie and multiple parties — the “Sandbar Fight” near Natchez, Miss. — was in fact in Mississippi and not Natchez, Louisiana (though the altercation happened near the state line).
As an aside, Abbott did not use his budgetary line-item veto power on that state budget this session — a rare move. In other words, the entire budget as presented is now approved.
Here are all of Saturday’s vetoes, followed by snippets from Abbott’s statements. We had hoped to provide some analysis, but there are a lot of them. Happy reading (no, really — it’s quite cathartic for any supporter of smaller government).
- HB 51 — “House Bill 51 would require the creation and use of standardized forms for certain actions in criminal cases. The Office of Court Administration can already create forms for courts to use, so House Bill 51 is unnecessary for that purpose. But in going further and mandating that judges use these standardized forms, the bill as drafted could create larger problems. The author’s good intentions are appreciated, but the bill may end up discouraging judges from giving individualized attention to the important matters being waived or otherwise addressed by the forms, and it risks creating loopholes for criminal defendants to exploit whenever the forms are not used. It also could preclude judges from handling these matters orally on the record, which unduly restricts the ability of judges to run their courtrooms.”
- HB 70 — “House Bill 70 would unnecessarily direct the Department of Agriculture to include in its strategic plan the goal of preventing crop diseases and plant pests. That subject is adequately covered in the Department of Agriculture’s most recent strategic plan, and that is not expected to change in future iterations. See Tex. Gov’t Code § 2056.002(b).”
- HB 93 — “House Bill 93 would mandate that all orders by magistrate judges not only be signed, but also include the magistrate’s name in legible print or writing. Yet it does not address what the consequences would be if the magistrate’s name is not printed in the form prescribed, which could create loopholes for opportunistic litigants and prompt needless challenges to court orders. The author may have intended to address the integrity of court orders against possible forgery, but the bill as drafted is not the right answer.”
- HB 109 — “Although the purpose of House Bill 109 was to keep Texas schools closed on Memorial Day, as written it would allow up to 859 school districts to remain open on the holiday. Memorial Day is an important holiday, intended to honor and remember the brave men and women who gave their lives in defense of our country. Teaching young Texans how to respectfully celebrate this holiday is critical, and we do not accomplish this goal with a law that may require them to attend school on Memorial Day. If the goal was to create more uniformity in how charter schools and school districts celebrate holidays, the Legislature should draft a more targeted bill next session.”
- HB 345 — “I have already signed House Bill 2092, requiring DPS to adopt procedures for issuing personal identification certificates to all individuals who surrender their driver’s licenses. House Bill 345 would apply to only some of those individuals and require DPS to adopt additional procedures for the automatic issuance of personal identification certificates. Disapproving House Bill 345 will allow individuals to transition to personal identification certificates when they desire and ensure that implementation of this program will not cause administrative headaches.”
- HB 389 — “I have signed House Bill 892, which gives all counties statewide the authority to regulate game rooms by removing all local bracket provisions from the relevant statute. House Bill 389 attempts to amend the provisions already repealed by House Bill 892. As such, House Bill 389 is unnecessary and I am vetoing it at the request of the author.”
- HB 448 — “House Bill 448 is an unnecessary invasion of parental rights and an unfortunate example of over-criminalization. Texas already compels drivers to use a car seat for a child under eight years of age. See Tex. Transp. Code § 545.412. House Bill 448 would get even more prescriptive, dictating which way the car seat must be facing for a child under two years of age. It is not necessary to micromanage the parenting process to such a great extent, much less to criminalize different parenting decisions by Texans.”
- HB 455 — “I appreciate the good intentions behind House Bill 455, and there is no disputing the educational and health benefits of recess during the school day. But requiring the State and its school districts to churn out more policies and mandates about recess is just bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake.”
- HB 463 — “House Bill 463, by mandating that air ambulance companies enter into reciprocity agreements, would unnecessarily intrude into the operations of private businesses and could very well reduce the availability of products that protect rural Texans from expensive air ambulance bills. The author was understandably trying to help Texans, but this bill likely runs afoul of federal law and could have unintended consequences. The Legislature and the federal government should find better ways to address the high costs of air ambulance services.”
- HB 651 — “I have signed House Bill 4289, which grants counties, cities, and hospital districts the authority to establish a health care provider participation program. In light of House Bill 4289, House Bill 651 is unnecessary because it sought to achieve the same purpose and similarly would grant authority to establish these programs, but only for certain counties. I am grateful to Representative Springer and Senator Kolkhorst for working to address this important issue.”
- HB 929 — “Under current law, a magistrate must inform an arrested person of important constitutional protections, such as the right to counsel. House Bill 929 would have added yet more recitations about non-constitutional matters, making these magistration warnings less helpful to arrestees. Magistration should focus arrestees on exercising their constitutional rights at the beginning of the criminal-justice process.”
- HB 994 — “The Tax Code permits homeowners to protest the appraised value of their property to an Appraisal Review Board and, if they are not satisfied with the Board’s ruling, to appeal that ruling to district court or binding arbitration. House Bill 994 would have created an exception to this process for just one county, allowing homeowners in Atascosa County whose homes are valued at $500,000 or less to appeal to a justice of the peace, rather than to a district court or arbitration. The Legislature has not identified a reason to treat the residents of one county so differently, and to depart from uniform procedures for property tax appraisal and protest.”
- HB 1031 — “I have signed House Bill 892, which gives all counties statewide the authority to regulate game rooms by removing all local bracket provisions from the relevant statute. House Bill 1031 attempts to amend the provisions already repealed by House Bill 892. As such, House Bill 1031 is unnecessary.”
- HB 1053 — “First, it would exempt the Willacy County Navigation District from competitive bidding requirements applicable to all other navigation districts, allowing it to donate, exchange, convey, sell, or lease a real property interest for less than reasonable market value and without providing public notice. This exception to the general laws of our State would unnecessarily undermine the tenets of transparency. Second, it would authorize the Port of Harlingen Authority to impose an ad valorem tax. The end-of-session addition of this power was not properly vetted through the legislative process and did not receive a public hearing. While likely not the intent of this bill’s author or sponsor, this would set a bad example for how special districts can evade statutory and legislative oversight in the future.”
- HB 1059 — “House Bill 1059 would mandate a series of reports that are redundant and unnecessary. Many cities and counties are already using adaptive strategies to manage stormwater runoff. Institutions of higher education, meanwhile, are providing sufficient information and support to local governments to promote even broader application of these stormwater-management tools.”
- HB 1099 — “House Bill 1099 would allow the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to hire peace officers to investigate violations of the Veterinary Licensing Act. Legislation was passed last session to help the Board develop an effective way to inspect and monitor the potential diversion of controlled substances at veterinarians’ offices, and to consistently implement its enforcement procedures. The Board should use its existing tools instead of creating more state-commissioned peace officers and seeking out new tasks related to supervising those officers.”
- HB 1120 — “Special districts exist to perform functions within their districts, but House Bill 1120 would extend this power outside the boundaries without adequate safeguards to protect against the potential for abuse.”
- HB 1168 — “House Bill 1168 would impose an unacceptable restraint on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding travelers. The Legislature may have intended simply to keep firearms off the tarmac, but the bill as drafted would newly prohibit carrying in any part of the airport terminal building, even ahead of the TSA inspection checkpoint. By vetoing this bill, I am ensuring that Texans can travel without leaving their firearms at home. I look forward to working with the next Legislature on the good idea behind this bill.”
- HB 1174 — “House Bill 1174 would allow county assistance districts to give their financial resources to other political subdivisions, but would do so without protecting against abuse.”
- HB 1215 — “House Bill 1215 mirrors current policy regarding the use of educational quality by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs in administering the low income housing tax credit program. The bill would limit administrative flexibility, however, to a degree that is unacceptable.”
- HB 1404 — “I have signed House Bill 892, which gives all counties statewide the authority to regulate game rooms by removing all local bracket provisions from the relevant statute. House Bill 1404 attempts to amend the provisions already repealed by House Bill 892. As such, House Bill 1404 is unnecessary and I am vetoing it at the request of the author.”
- HB 1742 — “In an effort to end surprise medical billing in Texas, I have signed Senate Bill 1264 into law. That leaves no work to be done by House Bill 1742, as the bill itself acknowledges in Section 14. I applaud the Legislature for addressing this critical issue in a number of bills, and I am proud to have signed the broadest one that reached my desk.”
- HB 1771 — “Although House Bill 1771 is a well-intentioned tool to protect victims of human trafficking, it has unintended consequences. The bill takes away options that law enforcement and prosecutors can use to separate victims from their traffickers, and it may provide a perverse incentive for traffickers to use underage prostitutes, knowing they cannot be arrested for engaging in prostitution. Efforts to reduce trafficking are to be commended, and I have signed numerous laws this session cracking down on it. I look forward to working with the author on ways to separate victims from their traffickers, both physically and economically.”
- HB 1806 — “House Bill 1806 would allow the San Antonio Water System to sell water from the Edwards Aquifer to adjacent counties, many of which are outside the regulatory jurisdiction of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, without any input from other permit holders or the governing board of the Edwards Aquifer Authority. The goal of the Edwards Aquifer Act, which was passed by the 73rd Legislature, was to treat all permit holders equally. This bill goes in the opposite direction by elevating the rights of one user above all others. Vetoing this bill maintains the careful balance of water rights within the Edwards Aquifer Authority and ensures that the resources of the aquifer remain protected.”
- HB 2111 — “Texas stopped allowing school districts to voluntarily erode their tax bases many years ago because of the impact on the school finance system. House Bill 2111 would undo this effort by allowing Southside I.S.D. in San Antonio to contribute its maintenance and operation tax revenue to a tax increment reinvestment zone for an indefinite period of time. The bill also would force taxpayers in Southside I.S.D. to pay higher taxes, undermining the significant reforms accomplished this session.”
- HB 2112 — “After Hurricane Harvey, I formed the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas, which identified ways to improve how our government responds to natural disasters. One of the Commission’s recommendations was to develop a process for the Department of Motor Vehicles to coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure that it has the information necessary to identify flooded vehicles. I have now signed into law House Bill 2310, which implements that recommendation. House Bill 2112 also seeks to address the challenge of identifying flooded vehicles, but in doing so, it would eliminate the current methodology for identification and repeal the provision of law added by House Bill 2310. The new process established in House Bill 2310 should have a chance to work.”
- HB 2348 — “First responders play a vital role in disaster recovery, so I appreciate the good intentions of the author. But this does not mean we need to create a new civil cause of action so that employees who volunteer in disasters can sue their employers. House Bill 2348 would open the door to such lawsuits against both public and private employers. Employers have every incentive to accommodate their brave employees who serve as first responders, but they deserve the flexibility to develop their own leave policies for their employees, instead of having the State dictate the terms.”
- HB 2475 — “Because I have signed House Bill 2048 into law, which repeals the Driver Responsibility Program, the changes made in House Bill 2475 are no longer necessary.”
- HB 2481 — “House Bill 2481, as passed by the House, represented an improvement in access to specialty treatment courts for our Texas veterans. Unfortunately, a last-minute amendment was added in the Senate and would create a juvenile family drug court program that is entirely different and unrelated. This new program would authorize a court to exercise jurisdiction over an individual who has never been charged with any crime, but who resides in the home of a child subject to a case under Title 3 of the Family Code and who is suspected by the Department of Family and Protective Services of having a substance abuse problem. The lack of due-process protections is unacceptable. Next session, I look forward to increasing the ability of our Texas veterans to access treatment without this concerning program attached.”
- HB 2856 — “House Bill 2856 attempts to address the very real problem of disaster-remediation contractors who take advantage of disaster victims. But it does so with a stiff criminal penalty in an area where civil remedies already exist, which could discourage well-intentioned, quality tradespeople from seeking work in Texas following a disaster. This could inadvertently harm victims and impede recovery. We must take a more measured approach to this issue—as was done in House Bill 2320, which I have signed into law this session. I look forward to working with the author next session.”
- HB 3022 — “House Bill 3022 would require the Texas Department of Public Safety to capture the contact information of driver’s license applicants who consent to being part of local emergency warning systems, and to work with local governments on creating those local warning systems. I appreciate the author’s good intentions, and I have signed important legislation this session that will help Texans prepare for disasters. But to ensure that the local emergency warning systems use data that is accurate, updated, and used appropriately, local governments—not the State—should be in charge of gathering and managing this type of data.”
- HB 3078 — “I have signed into law this session a number of important bills that will help Texas continue to lead on the issue of human trafficking. This is a priority for me, and I applaud the author’s contribution to this effort. But adding a thick layer of bureaucracy to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, as House Bill 3078 would have done, is not the way to help victims of human trafficking.”
- HB 3082 — “Current law already imposes criminal penalties for the conduct addressed in House Bill 3082. This proposed legislation would expose too many Texans to criminal liability for unintentional conduct. Negligently flying a drone over a railroad switching yard should not result in jail time.”
- HB 3195 — “Parts of House Bill 3195 are unnecessary because they duplicate provisions of House Bill 2184, which I have already signed into law. But among its other changes, House Bill 3195 would remove an important requirement: that juvenile offenders participate in certain educational programs before being eligible for parole. This requirement is intended to improve the literacy skills and behavior of juvenile offenders so that recidivism rates decrease. It should not be eliminated.”
- HB 3252 — “House Bill 3252 would change how the public is notified about a primary election, but in a way that could cause confusion and is now unnecessary. House Bill 3252 would require that notice of a primary election be posted on the county clerk’s website, but in Texas, some county clerks are not responsible for administering elections. And House Bill 2640, which I have signed into law, now requires the same notice of a primary election to be posted on the county’s official website. Disapproving House Bill 3252 will help ensure that voters know where to find information about how to cast their ballot.”
- HB 3490 — “Cyberbullying is unacceptable and must be stopped. In 2017, I signed Senate Bill 179 into law because cyberbullying is a very real problem. House Bill 3490 shares the same good intentions. Unfortunately, the language used in the bill is overbroad and would sweep in conduct that legislators did not intend to criminalize, such as repeated criticisms of elected officials on Internet websites. I look forward to working next session to forcefully counter cyberbullying in ways that can be upheld constitutionally.”
- HB 3511 — “House Bill 3511 is redundant of the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative, which is comprised of the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Since 2016, those three agencies have worked to assess local economic activity, examine workforce challenges and opportunities, and consider innovative approaches to meeting the State’s workforce goals. Together, they are implementing reforms that will improve the quality of education and the workforce in Texas. We need to give those changes a chance to succeed before we start adding bureaucracy and duplicating effort through creation of an expansive new commission.”
- HB 3648 — “I appreciate the author of House Bill 3648 for seeking to clarify the authority of the independent ombudsman who serves a vital role in assisting children committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. That important goal has already been accomplished in the exact same way through Senate Bill 1702, which I have signed into law, and the additional part of House Bill 3648 is unnecessary.”
- HB 3910 — “The Legislature has not shown the need for House Bill 3910, which would have created additional bureaucracy and increased the number of unelected officials with final decision-making power over county civil service matters. If workload is the problem, the answer is streamlined operations, not state laws creating unaccountable creatures like “supplemental” commissions. There is no apparent justification for singling out one county and giving it this ill-advised carve-out.
- HB 4703 — “House Bill 4703 would create Harris County Improvement District No. 28 within the City of Houston. This municipal management district would be authorized to impose not only new assessments, but also to impose more ad valorem taxes on properties in its territory to fund certain infrastructure and services. These properties, however, are wholly within the service area of the city and its water utility. That means this district would be using its new ad valorem taxation to fund infrastructure and services that the city is already imposing its own taxes to provide. The City of Houston has a history of using special purpose districts to subject citizens to double taxation, and this district would be another example. The creation of such a district should not be used as a tool to circumvent property tax reforms, including the meaningful reform passed this session in Senate Bill 2.”
- HCR 86 — “This is the kind of resolution that a Texas Governor would sign without thinking. Fortunately, with a little thinking and study, it was learned that a statement contained in the resolution is factually incorrect: it identifies the location of Jim Bowie’s ‘Sandbar Fight’ as “near Natchez, Louisiana,” when in fact the fight occurred near Natchez, Mississippi. So, as a thinking Governor, I think it best not to sign a factually incorrect resolution and instead to allow the Legislature to consider this next session.”
- HCR 133 — “I agree with the Legislature’s statements, expressed in House Concurrent Resolution 133, regarding the importance of Texas Southern University and the desirability of a divinity program. But Article III, Section 30 of the Texas Constitution requires all laws to be passed as bills. New law cannot be made by concurrent resolution. Because House Concurrent Resolution 133 purports to direct the actions of a state agency in the manner of a law, it goes beyond the proper bounds of a concurrent resolution.”
- SB 390 — “Senate Bill 390 would create, within Houston city limits, a municipal management district that would be governed by a self-perpetuating board appointed by the city and would impose assessments on property to fund services that the city already has a responsibility to provide to area residents. This goes too far. Creating districts like these within city limits undermines core principles of protecting taxpayers and promoting transparency, which led to historic achievements this session in Senate Bill 2. It is tantamount to double taxation on the district’s property owners, forcing them to pay an ad valorem tax to the city and another assessment to the district. The creation of a municipal management district, or any special purpose district, should not be used to circumvent property-tax reforms.”
- SB 550 — “I vetoed similar legislation in 2015 and must do so again here. Convicted criminals should have a pathway to reintegrating into society after they complete their sentences, and the law rightfully allows them to clear their records in certain circumstances. For example, this session I have signed into law Senate Bill 20, which expands the ability of human trafficking victims to seek orders of nondisclosure. Senate Bill 550, however, would allow individuals who were convicted of violent felonies to hide their dangerous conduct from society and from potential employers. I look forward to working with the next Legislature on a more tailored approach.
- SB 667 — “Senate Bill 667 would make a number of improvements to the law governing probate and guardianship matters, but they unfortunately cannot take effect this session because of a section of the bill that would create new public guardianship offices controlled by counties. It has not been shown that it is necessary to add permanent county offices dedicated to this function. Private attorneys are capable of handling these cases without the expense of this new bureaucracy.
- SB 815 — “The law requires that arrested individuals be brought before a magistrate to be informed about the charges against them and to receive important warnings about their rights. Records must be made of these communications, and while a statute currently fixes the periods for which courts must retain the records, Senate Bill 815 would instead have delegated to an agency the discretion to set—and change—the retention periods. Administrative flexibility is not a virtue in this instance. The Legislature should be the one to provide clear direction on this issue.”
- SB 1319 — “The author of Senate Bill 1319 had the right idea in imposing additional reporting requirements for hotel occupancy taxes. Taxpayers deserve that kind of transparency. But the bill was amended by others to add pet projects that would allow a single county and a single city to have an existing tax, previously enacted for a particular purpose, “converted” by election into a different tax for a different purpose. This tax “conversion” process would have misled voters, masking the reality that such an election is for a new tax by failing to inform them that they could simply allow the existing tax to expire. I applaud the author for his original concept and look forward to approving it next session, without the counterproductive amendments.”
- SB 1575 — “Disaster-recovery tools are critically important in Texas, and this session I have signed into law important legislation that will help Texans rebuild from prior disasters and prepare for future ones. But Senate Bill 1575 goes too far in shielding municipalities from being sued for all sorts of contracts they may enter into for an unspecified period after a disaster declaration. I look forward to working with the Legislature on a more tailored approach to this issue next session.”
- SB 1793 — “Senate Bill 1793 would have given government lawyers a pass on filling out a nepotism disclosure form prescribed by the State Auditor’s Office. For procurement contracts worth at least $1 million, this form compels agency employees to disclose relationships with, and direct or indirect pecuniary interests in, any party to the proposed contract with the state agency. Uncovering such ties to a potential vendor is important even if the procurement employee happens to be a member in good standing of the Texas Bar. Government lawyers should fill out the same nepotism disclosure form as everyone else at the agency.”
- SB 1861 — “Public facility corporations are a way for government entities to get in the business of affordable housing and issue conduit debt. To the extent Senate Bill 1861 would encourage taxing entities, including school districts and community colleges, to engage in activities that are outside of their core missions, it would distract those entities from improving student outcomes. Schools and community colleges should focus on educating students, and House Bill 3 provides the necessary resources to accomplish that goal.”
- SB 2456 — “Municipal management districts typically serve as a financing mechanism for commercial, residential, or entertainment development, but sometimes they are misused to supplant services that a city should provide, resulting in double taxation for district residents. Senate Bill 2456 illustrates the problem. It would give the Karis Municipal Management District, located within the City of Crowley, new powers to perform a litany of services paid for by assessments on property within the district. The services range from police and fire protection to the construction and permitting of public concession facilities. These are services that residents should expect the city to provide, using taxes the city imposes. Yet Senate Bill 2456 would allow the district to impose additional assessments for these services. Property owners should not be forced to pay both residential property taxes to the city and residential assessments to the district. Giving this district such expansive authority would reduce transparency and circumvent the taxpayer protections in Senate Bill 2.”