When it comes to immigration, Gov. Greg Abbott brings a false heat, promising a border wall that will never truly be built and making unfounded allegations of child abuse outside a migrant children’s shelter at the Freeman Coliseum.
When it came to reforming the electric grid this session, following February’s deadly freeze and widespread outages, Abbott left Texans out in the cold, especially when he claimed, “Everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas.”
Saying something doesn’t make it so. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is struggling to keep the lights on and AC blowing this summer, and immigration remains a federal issue.
While Abbott’s critics have, rightfully, scorched him on these two fronts — one is a failure to act, and the other is acting to fail, and both lead to harm — a number of his vetoes also deserve the public’s attention and scorn.
Most of this attention has been showered on his defunding of the Legislature in advance of the July 8 special session. As we have noted, this is all about leverage as Abbott pushes to limit voting access in Texas. Lawmakers would be wise to not bend the knee to a governor who acts like a king.
But other vetoes strike us as heartless, inhumane and arbitrary. Consider Abbott’s decision to veto SB 1109, known as the “Christine Blubaugh Act.” This was in honor of a 16-year-old girl in Grand Prairie, murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 2000.
The bill would have required Texas students to learn about the signs and prevalence of domestic and dating violence, how to report abuse and also raised awareness about resources. But Abbott shot this down because it “fails to recognize the rights of parents” to opt out of such education. One problem is, some parents commit abuse, too. They can commit domestic violence against one another, or their children. Another is it’s difficult for adults to recognize warning signs of abuse, so it would help to educate children. It’s a galling veto.
So is his decision to veto SB 474, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act. It would have made chaining up dogs outside and leaving them without water, shade and shelter illegal. Abbott called it “micromanaging.”
We would call it humane. It’s illegal to tether a dog with any kind of chain outside in San Antonio, thanks to a 2017 ordinance, and a tethered dog must have adequate shelter, shade and space to roam.
Abbott often complains about “patchwork” regulations, and this was an opportunity to establish a statewide baseline for the humane treatment of dogs.
What these bills have in common is an attempt by state lawmakers to protect the unprotected. Animals rely on people for their well-being, and children are empowered with knowledge about how to identify, report and not repeat domestic violence. That Abbott couldn’t see this is as disturbing as it is unsurprising.
Abbott also vetoed two criminal justice bills that would have brought some welcome change on the edges of reform. House Bill 686 would have opened the door for earlier parole for those convicted of committing certain crimes when they were younger than 18. The point was for parole boards to consider the inmate’s age and mental state at the time. Abbott said this would create confusion with existing statute. We say it’s the right intention and policy.
Abbott also vetoed Senate Bill 281, which would have banned using statements gained through hypnosis in criminal court. Yes, that’s your governor, Texas. Clearly, he has other priorities.
San Antonio Express-News