Texas House abortion-related amendment guts animal cruelty bill


Highlights

Bill sought to increase penalty for torturing, killing pets to a third-degree felony.

Republican’s amendment limits animal cruelty to a state jail felony.

Voting to add an abortion-related amendment Tuesday, the Texas House pulled the teeth from a bill intended to enhance criminal penalties for torturing and killing pets.

Senate Bill 762 sought to raise the penalty to a third-degree felony, which has a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, for the worst types of animal abuse.

Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, was outraged by the attempt to increase the punishment, saying abortion regulations recently approved by the House would make it only a state jail felony, with up to two years in jail, for abortion doctors who perform a “partial-birth” or a “dismemberment” abortion.

Tinderholt’s amendment proposed limiting animal cruelty to a state jail felony.

“I cannot, will not and shall not allow the Texas House to place a higher value to a pet over the life of a human being,” said Tinderholt, who earlier this session filed a bill to outlaw abortion that was not acted upon.

Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, the House sponsor of SB 762, said Tinderholt’s amendment would not only keep animal cruelty punishments unchanged, it would remove enhancement provisions that increase punishment for repeat convictions for animal cruelty.

“You chose to grandstand on this bill,” Moody told Tinderholt. “I think that’s tragic.”

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

Voting largely along party lines, the House adopted Tinderholt’s amendment 83-60, with about 10 Republicans voting against it.

After the vote, Moody told the House that criminal justice experts and two relevant committees had examined the bill before it was brought to the floor.

“What we let happen on the floor here today is you let someone who doesn’t understand criminal law change criminal law,” Moody said. “You’re going to let someone change criminal law who has no clue how that works.”

At that point, Tinderholt interrupted, calling a point of order by citing a House rule against overly personal attacks on the House floor.

Shortly thereafter, the House voted 97-39 to initially approve the bill. A final vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

Moody told the American-Statesman that his staff is studying the amendment “to see if there are opportunities to take it to a conference committee” with the Senate to work on the amendment language.

The Tinderholt amendment, Moody said, decimated a bill that was intended to make it easier to prosecute horrendous abuse against pets.

“The amendment that was adopted results in a nonsense statute that takes the highest-level offenses for animal cruelty — for crushing a dog’s head, dragging an animal behind your car, dousing an animal with an accelerant and setting it on fire — it makes that a state jail felony, which is six months to two years, and allows no enhancement,” Moody said.

“So it is a step backward on the most vicious crimes,” he said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

CANCHOLA TRIAL: Murder charge tossed after medical examiner’s flip-flop
CANCHOLA TRIAL: Murder charge tossed after medical examiner’s flip-flop

A man who is suspected of beating his boyfriend to death no longer faces several felony charges, including a murder charge, after a Travis County judge tossed out the bulk of a medical examiner’s controversial testimony on Monday. State district Judge David Wahlberg reversed his ruling from last week, announcing statements given from the witness...
Man offered $25k to kill ex-girlfriend, sheriff’s office says

TRAVIS COUNTY Officials: Man offered $25k to kill ex-girlfriend Travis County sheriff’s deputies on Monday arrested a man accused of trying to hire an acquaintance to kill his ex-girlfriend. Keith James Cote has been charged with criminal solicitation (to commit capital murder), according to the sheriff’s office. Cote offered someone $10...
Despite dropped charges, four Democrats to challenge Rep. Dawnna Dukes
Despite dropped charges, four Democrats to challenge Rep. Dawnna Dukes

Following Travis County prosecutors’ decision on Monday to drop all charges in the corruption case against her, state Rep. Dawnna Dukes is now out of legal trouble — but she’s not yet out of political trouble. Four Democrats who had previously said they plan to run for Dukes’ heavily Democratic House District 46 confirmed Monday...
Poll finds most Texans think DACA program should be extended
Poll finds most Texans think DACA program should be extended

Nearly 60 percent of Texans want to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects from deportation some 124,000 Texans who arrived as children and remained in the country illegally, according to results of the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Monday. Answering a separate question, slightly more than half oppose...
Murder trial begins in Sixth Street shootings that killed 1, injured 4
Murder trial begins in Sixth Street shootings that killed 1, injured 4

A trial begins this week for a man accused of firing shots into a Sixth Street crowd around closing time, killing a woman and wounding four other people. Endicott McCray, 26, was aiming for his brother-in-law but missed and instead shot five others, including Teqnika Marie Moultrie, who was in town visiting her wife’s family and died of a head...
More Stories