Do Texans Approve of the Legislation of the 85th Regular Legislative Session? – Chron.com (blog)

This post was originally published on this site

Written by Isaiah Warner

From immigration to texting while driving, the 85th Regular Legislative Session was not short of contentious moments over legislation.  As the Legislature prepares to convene on a special session on July 18, what do Texans think about legislation that was passed in the regular session?  Thanks to a recent poll by the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas, we have insight into these issues.[1]

Senate Bill 4

Immigration was one of the most hotly debated topics during the session.  Specifically, Senate Bill 4 brought several hours of testimony, debate and protest – even leading to a scuffle on the House floor on the last day of the session in which a state representative threatened to put a bullet in a colleague’s head.[2]  The legislation “prohibits ‘sanctuary city’ policies, which prohibit local law enforcement from inquiring about a person’s immigration.”[3]  Included in the legislation are campus police departments, which were added to the bill because “some student groups called for their schools to become ‘sanctuary campuses’ to protect undocumented students.”[4]  What do Texans think?

As shown above, a majority (53 percent) of Texans either somewhat or somewhat support ensuring that police officers have the right to question immigration status.  Forty-two percent either somewhat or strongly oppose.  Looking into the partisan breakdown, 87 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independents, and only 18 percent of Democrats either somewhat or strongly support the policy.[5]  Furthermore, 96 percent of self-identified members of the Tea Party either somewhat or strongly support the law.[6]

Another provision of SB4 requires local law enforcement to comply with detainer requests from federal immigration authorities.  A detainer request asks local law enforcement to detain an individual for two more days after their initial release date in order to provide ICE agents time to decide whether or not to start the deportation process.  What do Texans think?

Fifty-eight percent of Texans either somewhat or strongly support requiring local law enforcement to cooperate with immigration authorities, with one-third (33%) somewhat or strongly opposing.  By party, 86 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of Independents, and 27 percent of Democrats either somewhat or strongly support the requirement.[7]  Ninety-five percent of the Tea Party join in support.[8]

Senate Bill 8

In 2016, Texas’ Health and Human Services Department issued a rule requiring the burial of fetal remains, but a federal judge blocked this rule in January 2017.[9]  In response, Senate Bill 8 requires any health care facility to “bury or cremate any fetal remains whether from abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth”.[10]  Although a contentious debate was held on the issue, Governor Abbott signed the bill.  What do Texans think?

Forty-four percent of Texans either somewhat or strongly support this provision of SB8, with 39 percent either somewhat or strongly opposing it with 17 percent that do not know their opinion.  By party identification, 62 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of Independents, and 26 percent of Democrats either somewhat or strongly support the requirement.  Seventy-five percent of Tea Party members either somewhat or strongly support the law.

House Bill 62

Although numerous local entities have passed local laws regarding distracted driving, prior to the legislative session, Texas was just one of four states without a statute that addresses the subject.[11]  After nearly a decade of efforts, texting while driving will be punishable by up to a $99 fine for first-time offenders and $200 for repeat offenses.[12]  What do Texans think?

With 86 percent either somewhat or strong in favor and only 10 percent somewhat or strong in opposition, Texans overwhelmingly approve of making texting while driving illegal.  Although there was a significant partisan divide on other issues, there is not one on this issue with similar numbers amongst all political parties and factions.[13] [14]

House Bill 100

After cities like Austin put in place a regulatory framework that prompted ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to leave, state legislators responded with HB100, which overrides local measures on the issue.  Ride-sharing companies are required to have permits, pay an annual fee, and perform criminal background checks on drivers annually – although it does not require the controversial fingerprinting requirement.[15]  Uber and Lyft returned to Austin shortly after the legislation was signed by Governor Abbott.  What do Texans think?

Sixty percent of Texans either somewhat or strongly support establishing statewide rules for ride-sharing services, while 21 percent either somewhat or strongly oppose them.  A marginal party divide exists on the issue, with Tea Party members reacting similarly.[16] [17]

Conclusion

Although there was room for some bipartisan support on issues such as distracted driving and ride-sharing services, there remains a strong divide between Democrats and Republicans on issues of immigration and abortion rules.  Furthermore, there is a 9-13 percent gap between Republican and Tea Party support on the more controversial issues.

With a special session starting next week, this blog will look at the data from the Tribune/UT survey on what Texans think about a few items that the governor has selected for inclusion next week.

[1] https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/latest-poll

[2] http://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/Protesters-vow-action-at-State-Capitol-over-11180579.php

[3] http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/analysis/pdf/SB00004F.pdf#navpanes=0

[4] https://www.texastribune.org/2017/02/01/texas-senate-adds-muscle-anti-sanctuary-city-legis/

[5] https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/set/ensure-police-officers-have-right-question-immigration-status-june-2017#party-id

[6] https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/set/ensure-police-officers-have-right-question-immigration-status-june-2017#tea-party-identification

[7] https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/set/require-local-law-enforcement-cooperate-immigration-authorities-june-2017#party-id

[8] https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/set/require-local-law-enforcement-cooperate-immigration-authorities-june-2017#tea-party-identification

[9] https://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-politics/2017/01/27/federal-judge-blocks-texas-fetal-remains-rules-foreseeable-future

[10] https://www.texastribune.org/2017/05/19/texas-house-approves-sweeping-anti-abortion-bill/

[11] http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/analysis/pdf/HB00062S.pdf#navpanes=0

[12] http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2017/06/06/governor-abbott-texting-driving-ban-law/

[13] https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/set/make-it-illegal-text-while-driving-june-2017#party-id

[14] https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/set/make-it-illegal-text-while-driving-june-2017#tea-party-identification

[15] https://www.texastribune.org/2017/05/29/texas-gov-greg-abbott-signs-measure-creating-statewide-regulations-rid/

[16] https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/set/set-statewide-rules-ride-hailing-services-june-2017#party-id

[17] https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/set/set-statewide-rules-ride-hailing-services-june-2017#tea-party-identification