Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Tuesday that he plans to sign a pair of bills that will increase penalties for protesters who block roads and those who use fireworks or laser pointers against police, The Daily Caller reported.
House Bill 9 would make it a state jail felony to knowingly obstruct emergency vehicles on any road as well as the entrance to a health care facility that provides emergency services.
House Bill 2366 would make it a felony to use fireworks or laser pointers against police, and a first-degree felony if the use caused injury to police.
Both bills passed the Texas legislature by large margins.
Abbott: “Chaos” will not be tolerated
Protesters and rioters who gathered after George Floyd’s death caused eye injuries to some police officers with the use of commercial-grade laser pointers, and also used fireworks, and blocked emergency vehicles from getting to hospitals and emergency care facilities.
“Law enforcement officers face dangerous situations every day in the name of public safety. During the riots last summer, we witnessed the use of lasers and fireworks against police, injuring both officers and peaceful protestors, and rioters across the country blocking roadways and preventing emergency vehicle access to hospitals,” Abbott told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“That chaos won’t be tolerated in Texas,” Abbott added. “We will ensure that these dangerous actions are punished to the fullest extent of the law. I thank the Legislature for passing the much-needed protections for our law enforcement, peaceful protestors, and our communities in HB 9 and HB 2366, and look forward to signing both into law.”
“We want to protect law enforcement as much as we can,” said state Sen. Bryan Hughes, co-sponsor of HB 2366.
Bill against police defunding
Abbott also said he plans to sign a bill that would punish cities that defund police by taking away some of their sales tax revenue.
On Sunday, he cited the response time to a shooting in Austin as an example of what happens when police are defunded. It took emergency vehicles 12 minutes to respond to a gunshot victim with a critical head injury on Sunday.
Austin city council voted last year to divert up to $150 million from the police department, and more than $22 million has been “reallocated” so far.
“This is what defunding the police looks like,” Abbott tweeted Sunday. “Austin is incapable of timely responding to a victim shot in the head. Texas won’t tolerate this.”