The Texas Senate passed a bill last month that prevents local governments from cutting their law enforcement budgets without voter approval. This groundbreaking legislation, dubbed the “Back the Blue Act” (Senate Bill 23) is a shining beacon of hope in this country as other states actively try to defund, dismantle, and endanger the police through ‘progressive’ reform bills. This bill highlights the correct way to approach any type of reform: put it in the hands of the local voters and community it would impact.
This new bill eliminates the top-down approach that most of the police reform bills throughout the country are relying on, and instead puts the power with the people. And, as it turns out, most people do not want to defund their local police departments. According to a USA Today/Ipsos survey, only 18% supported the movement known as “defund the police.”
This common sense legislation understands how democracy should work, an unfortunately rare sighting in politics these days. While some politicians clearly think they can ram progressive action through even without the consent or support of their constituents, at least we can see that the majority of Senators in Texas still care about representing the voters.
The “Back the Blue” bill ultimately creates repercussions for defunding police departments without community consent. If local governments unilaterally reduce funding without public input and without conforming to specific caveats in the bill, these governments cannot raise property taxes for the next fiscal year.
This forces lawmakers to be held accountable to their constituents and affects their bottom line next year. Consequences like this will cause municipal governments to take a long, hard look at defunding the departments and make a meaningful choice to decide whether defunding the police is worth mortgaging their community’s future.
Bills like this ensure a system of checks and balances between local governments and citizens, ensuring there is public debate and compromise, and governments are forced to represent their citizen’s needs. We hope to see much more legislation of this caliber as it swings the control and balance back where it belongs. Politicians and elected officials have grown far too powerful in recent history and have seem to have forgotten what they really are: public servants. Bills like these redistribute the power back to the voters and ensures that democracy will win out.
It is interesting to note that this bill even received broad bipartisan support. Although some progressive politicians loudly opposed the legislation and claimed it overstepped local governments, Senate Bill 23 passed with broad bipartisan support. This shows that occasionally, common sense will rule out and can win over both sides of the aisle, if done correctly.
If you are in Texas, be proud that your state government still cares enough about freedom and democracy to pass such groundbreaking legislation. If you are pro-police citizen not currently living in Texas, use your voice to contact your state representatives and demand that they follow suit and create a similar “Back the Blue” bill that will keep power in local jurisdictions and with the voters.
About the Author:
Simon Lewis is the Executive Director of National Police Support Fund. He graduated from Marquette University in 2008 and has worked in the political sphere managing operations, fundraising, and political strategy at the state and national level. He enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2010 and has served as an enlisted Soldier and officer. His previous assignments include Military Police Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Vulnerability Assessment Officer, and Assistant Operations Officer. He has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He has extensive training and real-word experience in law enforcement operations, the National Incident Management System, FEMA operations, detention operations, Defense Support of Civilian Agency (DSCA) operations, and civil disturbance response. He currently lives in Milwaukee, WI.