GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM) – Gov. Greg Abbott rejected criticism by some members of Texas law enforcement Monday over the proposed bathroom privacy bill. His comments came as the Texas House continues to consider that and several other bills during a special session at the State Capitol.
Abbott made his remarks to reporters shortly after addressing law enforcement members at the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas conference, held at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. The Governor favors a bathroom privacy bill that, he said, would protect women and children.
The Texas Senate passed legislation last week that would require people at local government buildings and public schools to use multi-occupancy bathrooms and locker rooms which match what is on their birth certificate or identification issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Also last week, a group of law enforcement officers opposed the measure, saying that it would be difficult to enforce.
Abbott criticized those who spoke out. “There’s not a role for law enforcement to play,” he said Monday. “Enforcement of this law is done by the Attorney General. It’s a civil action, not a criminal issue. So, what I urge is for everyone to step back, calmly look at what the bill actually says before they cast some misguided judgments.”
Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is openly gay, and against the bathroom bill. “With our transgender children, we should be helping them grow up in a normal way,” Valdez said. “We should be helping them adjust to society, not using them as batting cages for a political purpose.”
Abbott noted that the Texas Senate has already passed 18 of the 20 bills on his agenda, and there is still plenty of time for the Texas House to do the same. The special session ends on August 18. “If they don’t pass it,” Abbott stated, “it’s not because of a lack of time, but a lack of will.”
Speaker Joe Straus has said that the Texas House will be deliberate. He has strongly opposed the bathroom privacy bill.
During the Monday morning speech, Abbott also praised those Texas sheriffs who have supported the state’s new law banning sanctuary cities. He said that the deadly human smuggling case in San Antonio last week is a byproduct of a broken border. In that instance, dozens of people were packed into a sweltering tractor-trailer, and 10 of them ultimately died.
Abbott denied that the sanctuary cities law targets victims who are in the country illegally. “The purpose of was to identify and remove from the streets dangerous criminals, not to detain hard-working families or innocent children,” he said. “I appreciate the strong support.”
But not every sheriff agreed with Abbott about the need for this law. “Certain communities who reported crimes before are not reporting it anymore,” said Valdez. “What is that saying to us? Crime is being committed and nobody is taking care of it.” She thinks that the law might be more effective in smaller rural communities.