Abbott Vows to Overturn Local Laws That Allow 'Public Camping'

Governor Abbott is vowing to 'override' ordinances passed by any Texas city which permit camping on city streets as a way to ease the burden on police who are trying to deal with the growing homeless problem.

Austin City Council last week modified its laws prohibiting 'urban camping,' saying it is a way to 'decriminalize homelessness.' The law will only allow police to ticket people who are sleeping or camping in public if they are 'a public health or safety hazard or are blocking the roadway.'

Abbott, in a tweet, warned that the Legislature is prepared to overturn any cities which take this step.

"If Austin-or any other Texas city-permits camping on city streets it will be yet another local ordinance the State of Texas will override. At some point cities must start putting public safety & common sense first. There are far better solutions for the homeless & citizens," Abbott tweeted.

A group called 'Homes not Handcuffs' pressured the Austin City Council to approve the ordinance, saying there is nothing inherently illegal about being homeless, and said the old laws were punative, and criminalized being poor.

San Antonio has not taken a similar step, but the District Attorney has agreed not to prosecute minor cases of trespassing against homeless people or mentally ill people. His actions came after two homeless people died in the Bexar County Jail after being arrested for simple trespass and being unable to come up with a very minor bond.

Opponents say steps like this have led to a build up of homeless people which have brought serious diseases and are causing major problems for big cities in California.

Joe Gonzales said at the time he will prosecute homeless people if they trespass on residential property, or cause a nuisance or violate other laws, or have a history of violent offenses.

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