The Texas Constitution gives the governor authority to veto bills and requires that the veto power be exercised within 10 days after legislation is passed during session, or within 20 days of the Legislature’s adjournment. The veto period for the 86th legislature ended on June 19. Of the 4,581 bills passed by the House and Senate during the regular session, Governor Abbott vetoed 58 bills – eight more than were vetoed last session. The governor also vetoed two concurrent resolutions. The following are a few bills of interest vetoed by Governor Abbott, along with the governor’s stated reasoning:
HB 1168 by Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) and Royce West (D-Dallas)
Relating to the offense of possessing a weapon in a secured area of an airport.
- Background: amends the definition of a secured area of an airport to which a person can not possess or carry a weapon to include an adjacent aircraft parking area used by common carriers in air transportation but not used by general aviation.
- Reasoning: “HB 1168 would impose an unacceptable restraint on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding travelers. The Legislature may have intended simply to keep firearms off the tarmac, but the bill as drafted would newly prohibit carrying in any part of the airport terminal building, even ahead of the TSA inspection checkpoint. By vetoing this bill, I am ensuring that Texans can travel without leaving their firearms at home. I look forward to working with the next Legislature on the good idea behind this bill.”
HB 3082 by Jim Murphy (R-Houston) and Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury)
Relating to investigating and prosecuting the criminal offense of operating an unmanned aircraft over or near certain facilities.
- Background: Adds “with criminal negligence” to the statute prohibiting a person from operating an unmanned aircraft over a correctional facility, detention facility, or critical infrastructure facility at lower than 400 feet above ground level.
- Reasoning: “Current law already imposes criminal penalties for the conduct addressed in HB 3082. This proposed legislation would expose too many Texans to criminal liability for unintentional conduct. Negligently flying a drone over a railroad switching yard should not result in jail time.”
HB 1806 by Tracy King (D-Batesville) and Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels)
Relating to the use of water withdrawn from the Edwards Aquifer by certain entities.
- Background: expands the area where water withdrawn from the Edwards Aquifer may be sold to include counties adjacent to the authority’s boundaries.
- Reasoning: “HB 1806 would allow the San Antonio Water System to sell water from the Edwards Aquifer to adjacent counties, many of which are outside the regulatory jurisdiction of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, without any input from other permit holders or the governing board of the Edwards Aquifer Authority. The goal of the Edwards Aquifer Act, which was passed by the 73rd Legislature, was to treat all permit holders equally. This bill goes in the opposite direction by elevating the rights of one user above all others. Vetoing this bill maintains the careful balance of water rights within the Edwards Aquifer Authority and ensures that the resources of the aquifer remain protected.”
SB 1319 by Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) and Jim Murphy (R-Houston)
Relating to certain taxes and to an annual report submitted to the comptroller concerning those taxes.
- Background: requires counties that impose a hotel occupancy tax to annually report to the comptroller on information related to the tax.
- Reasoning: “The author of SB 1319 had the right idea in imposing additional reporting requirements for hotel occupancy taxes. Taxpayers deserve that kind of transparency. But the bill was amended by others to add pet projects that would allow a single county and a single city to have an existing tax, previously enacted for a particular purpose, ‘converted’ by election into a different tax for a different purpose. This tax ‘conversion’ process would have misled voters, masking the reality that such an election is for a new tax by failing to inform them that they could simply allow the existing tax to expire. I applaud the author for his original concept and look forward to approving it next session, without the counterproductive amendments.”
The Governor also has the authority to line item veto parts of the Budget. This session Governor Abbott did not line item a single item, which is rare and sends a powerful message of unity. The full list of bills vetoed by the governor can be accessed at Texas Legislature Online.