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The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Abbott vetoes himself into doghouse

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Photo by via Twitter @GregAbbott_TX

Opinion writer Zach Freeman discusses Governor Greg Abbott’s recent decision to veto Senate Bill 474. 

Seemingly inspired by the perfunctory success of Disney’s Cruella, Texas Governor Greg Abbott made his own strides in the eradication of dog-kind last week. Abbott’s decision to veto Senate Bill 474, or SB 474, continues to allow owners to chain dogs outside without access to water or shelter, and this move did not earn him a luxurious spotted fur coat. Instead, Abbott received scorn from animal advocates, organizations like the Texas Humane Legislation Network and the public via the trending Twitter hashtag #AbbottHatesDogs.
Despite overwhelming bipartisan support in the Texas House and Senate, Abbott blocked the bill on the basis that “Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization.” The “micro-managing” Abbott was referring to was the imagined complexity in determining whether or not a dog’s collar is too tight or its tether too short. SB 474’s requirements of a restraint of at least “10 feet” or “five times the length of the dog” is not overly confusing or restrictive. If an owner chooses to take on the responsibility of having a dog, this level of understanding its care and requirements should be a bare minimum. SB 474 wasn’t “micro-managing” – it was common sense.
SB 474 was one of 21 bills vetoed by Gov. Abbott in the 2021 legislative session. In the same breath, Abbott condemned SB 474 for contributing to “over-criminalization” and vetoed two crime reform bills explicitly tackling over-criminalization. HB 686 would have allowed earlier parole eligibility for inmates who committed offenses while under the age of 18, and SB 237 would reduce penalties for trespassing, allowing officers to ticket and release offenders. These two bills and similar crime reform offer real and much-needed change to Texas’ sometimes-overzealous legal system and a draconian tendency to deliver disproportionate punishment.
The next-most notable veto was blocking funding for the Texas legislature. Abbott’s decision came after Democrats in the Texas House walked out to prevent the passage of the voter restriction Senate Bill 7. Abbott justified his decision by saying, “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.”
Going tit for tat, it is not Abbott’s job to veto bills for his personal gain or sense of petty justice. Abbott’s job is to represent the people of Texas and ensure everything possible is done to enrich and benefit our lives. Otherwise, why are we even keeping him around?
Many of the other bills on Abbott’s chopping block would have been nothing but helpful for the people of Texas. For example, Abbott vetoed an addendum to Texas public school curriculum to cover domestic violence.
Abbott rejected SB 1109 for not giving parents the choice to opt their children out of an education discussing domestic abuse. It is a massive oversight to allow parents, who may potentially be abusers, control over whether their children can be taught to recognize signs of abuse and what to do about it. Reintroducing an abuse education bill that guardians can opt to skip negates the benefit this learning provides.
Over the last year, Abbott has failed to enact meaningful change addressing failures in Texas’ electric grid during the winter and summer. Abbott also ignored expert opinion and lifted COVID-19 restrictions in order to appeal to a Trumpian base, disregarding the safety and health of his state. It’s clear that many of Abbott’s recent vetoes serve to appeal to that same vein of voters. Abbott’s decision to forgo his duties and obligation to all Texans for brand loyalty is not going unnoticed and may not be as successful as he hopes.
All things considered, it is clear why Abbott would want bills like SB 7 to pass. The more people who vote in Texas, the less likely it is Abbott keeps his position after the 2022 election. Things may not go “alright, alright, alright” for the current governor if he stays on this unpopular and self-destructive path. As Abbott says, “Texans love their dogs,” and if Abbott forces us to choose between him and them, it’s clear who’s getting stuck in the doghouse.
Zachary Freeman is an anthropology senior and opinion columnist for The Battalion.

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