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Abbott: CPS Reform, A Sanctuary Cities Ban Among 'Emergencies'

In his second State-of-the-State speech today, Gov. Greg Abbott called for four emergency items, a move that will allow state lawmakers to vote on those measures without waiting until they are at least 60 days into the session.  

Abbott called for reforming Child Protective Services, banning sanctuary cities, implementing meaningful ethics reforms and passing a resolution calling for a Convention of States.

Child Protective Services

Texas faces a federal judge’s final order that is likely to require the state to spend money and show it has provided enough caseworkers to respond to child neglect and nuisance cases.  The judge also wants Texas to show it has adequate foster care homes and facilities that are properly monitored. 

“Last year, more than 100 children died in our Child Protective System,” Abbott said, and added:  “Do not underfund this rickety system only to have it come back and haunt you.”

Sanctuary City Ban

Abbott told lawmakers gathered for the speech he is supporting legislation that calls for denying state funding to local governments that don’t work with federal immigration authorities. 

“Some law enforcement officials in Texas are openly refusing to enforce existing law. That is unacceptable,” Abbott said.  Elected officials don't get to pick and choose which laws they obey. 

To protect Texans from deadly danger, we must insist that laws be followed.”

Ethics Reforms

Gov. Abbott singled out legislation proposed by Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano.  It would place requirements on state lawmakers to disclose gifts and perks that currently aren’t disclosed.  It would also require departing lawmakers to skip at least one legislative session before they lobbied state government officials.

“Central to keeping Texas the bastion of liberty in America, we need to shore up cracks in our democratic process, “Abbott said.

“It’s time to let Texans know if elected officials have government contracts paid for by taxpayers. Voters deserve to know if officials are working for themselves or the people who elected them.”

Convention of States

Gov. Abbott wants a convention of states to assemble and consider amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  It takes 34 state legislatures to agree before a convention can be called.

In his State-of-the-State speech Abbott said he supports amendments that would include term limits for lawmakers; restoring the 10th Amendment; an amendment that would limit federal regulations; and a balanced budget amendment.

“We should demand that the federal government do two things. One: Fulfill important but limited responsibilities as written in the Constitution. And two: On everything else, leave us alone, and let Texans govern Texas,” Abbott said.

A verbatim transcript of Gov. Abbott's entire speech

Shelley Kofler is Texas Public Radio’s news director. She joined the San Antonio station in December 2014 and leads a growing staff that produces two weekly programs; a daily talk show, news features, reports and online content. Prior to TPR, Shelley served as the managing editor and news director at KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.