AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Feb. 8 praised the Texas Senate’s approval of legislation to ban sanctuary cities, an item on his priority list for the current legislative session.
Senate Bill 4 by Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, passed after 16 hours of floor debate on a 20-10 party-line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats in opposition.
The bill, if enacted, would prohibit a municipality, county or special district, campus police department of an institution of higher education, an employee of certain local entities and a district attorney or criminal district attorney from adopting rules, orders, ordinances or policies that prohibit enforcement of state and federal immigration laws. It also would void any local policy that currently prohibits law enforcement from inquiring about a person’s immigration status and would require compliance with federal detainer requests.
SB 4 now moves to the Texas House of Representatives for consideration.
Abbott said: “As governor, I will not tolerate sanctuary city policies that put the citizens of Texas at risk. Elected officials do not get to pick and choose which laws they will obey. Today’s action in the Senate helps ensure that sheriffs and officials across Texas comply with federal immigration laws and honor Immigration and Custom Enforcement detainer requests that keep dangerous criminals off of our streets.”
Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, voted against the bill. “It signals to many in our immigrant community that they are not welcome in Texas,” Uresti said.
Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers reportedly arrested more than 40 undocumented Mexican citizens in Austin alone. Similar sweeps, ordered by the White House, were conducted in other major cities in Texas and across the nation.
Senate OKs ethics bill
Also on Feb. 8, the state Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 14, omnibus legislation to revamp ethics laws pertaining to elected officials. This was another issue tagged as an emergency item by Gov. Abbott.
Authored by Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, the bill would prohibit a registered lobbyist from serving in elective office and require any elected official convicted of a felony to be removed from office. The bill also calls for canceling any taxpayer-funded pension if the crime relates to abuse of office.
Other things the bill would require:
– Increased reporting of wining and dining by lobbyists;
– A moratorium of one full session before a former legislator could register as a lobbyist; and
– Public disclosure of any ties officials or their immediate family members have to contracts between private businesses and government agencies.
Speaker names committees
House Speaker Joe Straus on Feb. 9 announced chairs and members of 38 standing House committees for the 85th Legislature.
“These assignments reflect the diversity of the Texas House. Some very good members are taking on new challenges. I’m looking forward to their leadership. There is always a balance to strike between continuity and fresh thinking and I think we have the right mix,” Straus said.
Lists of committee chairs and members can be accessed online at http://www.house.texas.gov/_media/pdf/committee.pdf.
Missing jersey is sought
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Feb. 6 asked the Texas Rangers, a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety, to assist the Houston Police Department in the hunt for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey.
“Whoever took this jersey should turn it in. The Texas Rangers are on the trail,” Patrick said.
The jersey was reported missing from the Patriots’ locker room at NRG Stadium in Houston. Brady wore the jersey in leading the Patriots to a come-from-behind victory in the Super Bowl Feb. 5.
Allocations to be sent
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Feb. 8 announced he would send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $858.6 million in local sales tax allocations for February, 1 percent less than in February 2016.
These allocations, Hegar said, are based on sales made in December by businesses that report tax monthly; October, November and December sales by quarterly filers; and 2016 sales by businesses that report tax annually.
“The cities of Houston, Midland and San Antonio saw noticeable decreases in sales tax allocations,” Hegar said. “The cities of Round Rock, Frisco and Irving saw noticeable increases in sales tax allocations,” he added.