Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) vetoed 20 bills passed by the GOP-controlled state Legislature, most of them announced Monday, The Texas Tribune reports. Abbott canceled two criminal justice reform bills prioritized by House Speaker Dade Phelan (R), a bill requiring schools to teach high school and middle school students about child abuse prevention and domestic violence, another one expanding rural broadband access, and legislation offering reduced penalties for criminal trespassing, arguing it would hurt tools to arrest homeless people and immigrants at the border.
Abbott also vetoed a bill Friday that would have banned tethering dogs outside with heavy chains, earning him the ire of dog owners and the hashtag #AbbottHatesDogs, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday. The bill, which would have expanded and clarified the state's animal cruelty laws, had the support of animal control officers, law enforcement agencies and organizations, county prosecutors, and advocates for animals, and it passed 28-3 in the Senate and 83-32 in the House.
Abbott, who owns a dog named Pancake, said the current laws are adequate and "Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization." The Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN), which helped lead the effort to pass the legislation, disagreed. The current laws are "completely unenforceable," THLN executive director Shelby Bobosky said. "All the elements Gov. Abbott cited as 'micromanagement' were carefully negotiated compromises that addressed concerns from lawmakers in both parties to strike the right balance for our diverse state."
Abbott killing the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act may have irked Texas dog owners, but "his most explosive veto came Friday when he signed the state budget but used his line-item veto to reject funding for the Texas Legislature, its staffers, and legislative agencies," the Tribune reports. The veto was retribution for Democrats breaking quorum to sink a controversial elections package, Senate Bill 7.
"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," said Abbott, who had already planned to call special sessions before the Democrats walked out.
After the Democrats stymied SB7, Republicans who wrote the bill claimed some of the most controversial provisions included in the final version were either mistakes or bad policy mysteriously snuck in at the last minute, and said they won't be revived when the legislation is revived in a special session.