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Texas George Floyd Act stalls in final days of legislative session

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 9:41 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - A year after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, several bills in Floyd’s name in front of the Texas Legislature appear to have hit a dead end.

The Texas George Floyd Act, promoted by more than 60 representatives, consisted of eight police reform measures.

So far, only three of those eight proposals have passed both chambers.

Those include a ban on certain police chokeholds and neck restraints, a requirement for officers to intervene in certain circumstances in which they witness excessive force by their colleagues and a requirement for officers to provide or call for medical aid when they come across someone who is injured.

“Three out of eight is a fail,” Koretta Brown, the president of the Alliance for a New Justice System, told KWTX.

A proposal that would have banned officers from arresting people for traffic offenses that are only punishable by fines and another that would have required the corroboration of undercover officer testimony in drug cases cleared the House with bipartisan support but died in the Senate.

Kathy Mitchell, the policy coordinator at Just Liberty, chalked that up to the influence of police lobbying groups on Senate leadership.

“Where we are stuck on police reform is that we are not willing yet to say, ‘Just because the police lobby opposes it, doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do and we shouldn’t do it anyway,’” Mitchell told KWTX.

Other proposals in the George Floyd Act that ultimately did not advance include creating a standardized set of punishments for officer misconduct, amending Texas’ use of force standards to require an imminent threat and limiting what is known as qualified immunity for officers.

“The Legislature was unable to do anything significant about policing in Texas and the problems associated with it,” Mitchell said.

Separate from the George Floyd Act, lawmakers approved a bill that would require officers to keep their body cameras on during investigations.

They also have approved a bill making it a felony for Texas protesters to block emergency vehicles on roads and two separate bills aimed at punishing Texas cities that slash funding to their police departments.

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