Sanctuary Cities, Ethics Reform Legislation Pass to Senate Floor

Shortly before Gov. Greg Abbott’s State of the State address, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told a San Antonio radio station that the Texas Senate would act very quickly on issues he deemed a priority.

“If it’s an emergency item on Tuesday in the governor’s State of the State, we’ll have that bill passed over to the House within a week after that,” said Patrick.

So far Patrick seems on track to keep that promise on two of Abbott’s priorities: banning sanctuary cities and passing serious ethics reform.

In a hearing of the State Affairs Committee, lawmakers considered legislation authored by State Sen. Charles Perry (R–Lubbock) that would require city, county, and other officials to cooperate with federal authorities to enforce immigration law.

“Not very far from where we sit today is a person who has used their discretion to refuse to enforce the law when it comes to violent and serious offenses,” said Perry. “She has left off a whole list of heinous, awful, and personal crimes.”

Perry’s remarks refer to Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who has said she will refuse to cooperate with federal authorities and Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainment requests, effectively turning the county into a sanctuary for illegal alien criminals.

In a video last week, Hernandez stated she would only honor ICE detainers when a suspect is booked into the Travis County Jail on one of three offenses: capital murder, aggravated sexual assault, or “continuous smuggling of persons.”

Despite Democrat objections, the measure ultimately passed the State Affairs Committee last night by a party-line vote of 7-2.

The same committee also passed a major ethics reforms package the day before.

Authored by State Sen. Van Taylor (R–Plano), the proposal would bar politicians convicted of a felony from holding office, force lawmakers to disclose government contracts, rein in lobbyist-legislator wining and dining, and restrict the ability of lawmakers to enter the lobby.

Unlike the sanctuary city legislation which drew testimony that lasted the majority of the day, Taylor’s legislation was passed unanimously with strong support from lawmakers in both parties.

“This morning our major ethics bill was the first bill passed out of committee this session. Not only does this speak to the commonsense, bipartisan measures within this bill, but it also gives the Legislature more than ample time to answer this charge and pass ethics reform,” said Taylor in a press release. “As I said when I filed this bill: Wide support. No excuses. Let’s get this done!”

Both pieces of legislation are expected to be considered and passed by the full Texas Senate next week.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cary Cheshire leads the Capitol Bureau for Empower Texans & Texas Scorecard. A 6th Generation Texan, Cary attended Texas A&M University was active in a number of conservative causes including Ted Cruz's Senate campaign. He has also worked on campaigns to elect conservatives to both Congress and the Texas Legislature. Cary enjoys college football, genealogy research, and the occasional craft beer.

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