A Texas-wide ban on public camping would make it a crime — lawmakers are considering it Monday

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Even before Austin voters decide whether or not to reinstate the city’s public camping ban, state lawmakers are pushing a plan of their own.

The Texas Senate Local Government Committee will consider a bill on Monday that would establish a statewide public camping ban and create a Class C misdemeanor for violators.

Gov. Greg Abbott offered his support for the bill, and an identical proposal in the Texas House.

“We cannot sit idly by and allow Texas families and businesses to suffer the economic and public health consequences that these encampments bring into our cities,” Abbott said in a statement. “These pieces of legislation provide a uniform policy for the entire state that will hold cities accountable to develop meaningful and compassionate long-term solutions to support those experiencing homelessness.”

If approved, Senate Bill 987 would only allow local governments to enact stricter camping ordinances. Local governments would be able to provide space for camping on property owned by the government.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler compared the proposal to Proposition B — a ballot measure in front of city voters on May 1 that would reinstate a ban on camping.

“This bill, like Proposition B, offers no help and no solution,” Adler said in a statement. “We can and must do better to get people out of tents, not merely to move their tents out of sight. SB987 is not the answer.”

The hearing on Senate Bill 987 will be held at 12:30 p.m.

KXAN politics reporter John Engel will have a full report at 5 p.m.

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