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Bexar County commissioners approve legislative agenda that includes abortion rights and gun control

Bexar County Courthouse.jpg
Brian Kirkpatrick
/
TPR
Bexar County Courthouse

Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the county's agenda it hopes to push through the Texas Legislature during their upcoming session in Austin, including abortion rights and better gun control.

The agenda stated the county will support the right of individuals to make private reproductive decisions and oppose laws and policies intended to restrict reproductive rights and curtail health care access.

Commissioners will also roll into the agenda an abortion rights resolution sought by local advocates, including UTSA student Daleen Garcia, who led a march and rally of students on the main campus back in October.

She told commissioners she was disappointed, however, that the resolution did not address their call for a moratorium on crisis pregnancy centers.

"These centers use deceptive advertising and unsuspecting pregnant women who are led to believe they will be given comprehensive, unbiased care. What they get instead is false information and religious indoctrination," Garcia told the court.

In the wake of May's Uvalde school shooting, commissioners also directed county staff to battle at the state capitol for an increase in the semiautomatic weapons purchase age from 18 to 21 and for red flag laws that would keep guns out of the hands of those that could do harm.

The county legislative agenda also calls for property appraisal reform, opposition to any state efforts to control local funding issues, more permanent supportive housing for those with health and mental health issues, more state funding for local school districts to relieve the property tax burden and to boost school safety, and for an online voter registration system.

In other action, commissioners also approved a letter that seeks state reimbursement for tens of millions of dollars the county has spent on the operation of the crowded adult detention center.

County Judge Nelson Wolff expressed outrage that 722 inmates who should be in state prisons remain locked up here because of state prison capacity issues.

"They rather put immigrants in prison rather than violent criminals, and so we're having to hold them," Wolff told county staffers.

He directed the county's legal team to examine a possible lawsuit against the state to win reimbursement.

Another 313 inmates here have been declared incompetent by judges to stand trial and should be in state mental health treatment, but also remain jailed at county taxpayer expense, he added.

In other action, commissioners:

  • Approved a $4 million grant from federal COVID-19 relief dollars to help fund the Towne Twin Village on Dietrich Road on the East Side. The unique complex for unhoused seniors includes an affordable mix of apartments, tiny homes, and RVs. Construction is already underway. The Harlandale school district will receive more than a $1 million to help provide mental health services to students from the same source of funds.
  • Approved $2.2 million in jail staffing overtime costs from October through December.
  • Approved $530,000 to hire four additional investigators for the special victims unit as crime continues to rise sharply in the county along with the booming population in unincorporated areas.
  • Passed a resolution congratulating San Antonio FC on its recent first ever USL Championship. Wolff gleefully noted the team has also beat the professional Austin soccer team that snubbed San Antonio after much wooing to locate in Austin.
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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian