New Texas Law Bans Homeless Camping within Public View

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Some simply call HB1925, the anti-homeless encampment bill, but there is a lot more to it than that. We talk with Cody Howard from Mission Texarkana about HB1925 in the Texarkana area and how TTPD will be dealing with this.

Click to see Texas HB1925.

In the bigger Texas cities, homeless encampments are a huge problem, but not so much for Texarkana. HB1925 in a nutshell is saying nobody, homeless or otherwise can legally camp within public view and other areas. Cody tells us that the TTPD is not out searching for camps visible to the public, but will have to respond to complaints from the public. The first offense could be a fine of as much as $500, but subsequent instances may bring jail time.

So, if a complaint is made on a campsite, within Texarkana Texas City Limits police will have to respond. Hopefully, the person camping will be able to move on with a warning, unless they have warrants or breaking other laws.

From Legiscan.com:

H.B. No. 1925

AN ACT
relating to prohibitions on camping in a public place and to a
political subdivision’s designation of property for camping by
homeless individuals; creating a criminal offense.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Chapter 48, Penal Code, is amended by adding
Section 48.05 to read as follows:
Sec. 48.05. PROHIBITED CAMPING. (a) In this section:
(1) “Camp” means to reside temporarily in a place,
with shelter.
(2) “Shelter” includes a tent, tarpaulin, lean-to,
sleeping bag, bedroll, blankets, or any form of temporary,
semipermanent, or permanent shelter, other than clothing or any
handheld device, designed to protect a person from weather
conditions that threaten personal health and safety.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally
or knowingly camps in a public place without the effective consent
of the officer or agency having the legal duty or authority to
manage the public place.
(c) The actor’s intent or knowledge may be established
through evidence of activities associated with sustaining a living
accommodation that are conducted in a public place, including:
(1) cooking;
(2) making a fire;
(3) storing personal belongings for an extended
period;
(4) digging; or
(5) sleeping.
(d) Consent given by an officer or agency of a political
subdivision is not effective for purposes of Subsection (b), unless
given to authorize the person to camp for:
(1) recreational purposes;
(2) purposes of sheltering homeless individuals, if
the property on which the camping occurs is subject to a plan
approved under Subchapter PP, Chapter 2306, Government Code, and
the camping occurs in a manner that complies with the plan;
(3) purposes permitted by a beach access plan that has
been approved under Section 61.015, Natural Resources Code, and the
camping occurs in a manner that complies with the plan; or
(4) purposes related to providing emergency shelter
during a disaster declared under Section 418.014, Government Code,
or a local disaster declared under Section 418.108 of that code.
(e) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
(f) This section does not preempt an ordinance, order, rule,
or other regulation adopted by a state agency or political
subdivision relating to prohibiting camping in a public place or
affect the authority of a state agency or political subdivision to
adopt or enforce an ordinance, order, rule, or other regulation
relating to prohibiting camping in a public place if the ordinance,
order, rule, or other regulation:
(1) is compatible with and equal to or more stringent
than the offense prescribed by this section; or
(2) relates to an issue not specifically addressed by
this section.
(g) Except as provided by Subsection (h), before or at the
time a peace officer issues a citation to a person for an offense
under this section, the peace officer must make a reasonable effort
to:
(1) advise the person of an alternative place at which
the person may lawfully camp; and
(2) contact, if reasonable and appropriate, an
appropriate official of the political subdivision in which the
public place is located, or an appropriate nonprofit organization
operating within that political subdivision, and request the
official or organization to provide the person with:
(A) information regarding the prevention of
human trafficking; or
(B) any other services that would reduce the
likelihood of the person suspected of committing the offense
continuing to camp in the public place.
(h) Subsection (g) does not apply if the peace officer
determines there is an imminent threat to the health or safety of
any person to the extent that compliance with that subsection is
impracticable.
(i) If the person is arrested or detained solely for an
offense under this section, a peace officer enforcing this section
shall ensure that all of the person’s personal property not
designated as contraband under other law is preserved by:
(1) permitting the person to remove all the property
from the public place at the time of the person’s departure; or
(2) taking custody of the property and allowing the
person to retrieve the property after the person is released from
custody.
(j) A fee may not be charged for the storage or release of
property under Subsection (i)(2).
SECTION 2. Chapter 2306, Government Code, is amended by
adding Subchapter PP to read as follows:
SUBCHAPTER PP. PROPERTY DESIGNATED BY POLITICAL SUBDIVISION FOR
CAMPING BY HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS
Sec. 2306.1121. DEFINITION. In this subchapter, “camp” has
the meaning assigned by Section 48.05, Penal Code.
Sec. 2306.1122. APPROVAL REQUIRED. (a) A political
subdivision may not designate a property to be used by homeless
individuals to camp unless the department approves a plan described
by Section 2306.1123(b).
(b) Not later than the 30th day after the date the
department receives a plan submitted by a political subdivision
under this subchapter, the department shall make a final
determination regarding approval of the plan.
Sec. 2306.1123. PLAN REQUIREMENTS. (a) In this section,
“proposed new campers” means homeless individuals the applicant
intends to allow to camp at the property.
(b) A plan submitted for approval under this subchapter must
describe each of the following with respect to a proposed property:
(1) the availability of local health care for proposed
new campers, including access to Medicaid services and mental
health services;
(2) the availability of indigent services for proposed
new campers;
(3) the availability of reasonably affordable public
transportation for proposed new campers;
(4) local law enforcement resources in the area; and
(5) the steps the applicant has taken to coordinate
with the local mental health authority to provide for any proposed
new campers.
(c) An applicant shall respond to reasonable requests for
additional information made by the department regarding the
proposed property or plan.
Sec. 2306.1124. APPROVAL OF CERTAIN PROPERTY PROHIBITED.
The department may not approve a plan described by Section
2306.1123(b) if the department determines that a property proposed
under the plan is a public park.
SECTION 3. Subtitle C, Title 11, Local Government Code, is
amended by adding Chapter 364 to read as follows:
CHAPTER 364. ENFORCEMENT OF PUBLIC CAMPING BANS
Sec. 364.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
(1) “Local entity” means:
(A) the governing body of a municipality or
county;
(B) an officer or employee of or a division,
department, or other body that is part of a municipality or county,
including a sheriff, municipal police department, municipal
attorney, or county attorney; and
(C) a district attorney or criminal district
attorney.
(2) “Policy” includes a formal, written rule,
ordinance, order, or policy and an informal, unwritten policy.
(3) “Public camping ban” means a law, rule, ordinance,
order, or other regulation that prohibits camping in a public
place, including Section 48.05, Penal Code.
Sec. 364.002. POLICY ON CAMPING BANS. (a) A local entity
may not adopt or enforce a policy under which the entity prohibits
or discourages the enforcement of any public camping ban.
(b) In compliance with Subsection (a), a local entity may
not prohibit or discourage a peace officer or prosecuting attorney
who is employed by or otherwise under the direction or control of
the entity from enforcing a public camping ban.
(c) This section does not prohibit a policy that encourages
diversion or a provision of services in lieu of citation or arrest.
Sec. 364.003. INJUNCTIVE RELIEF. (a) The attorney general
may bring an action in a district court in Travis County or in a
county in which the principal office of the entity is located to
enjoin a violation of Section 364.002.
(b) The attorney general may recover reasonable expenses
incurred in obtaining relief under this section, including court
costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, investigative costs, witness
fees, and deposition costs.
Sec. 364.004. DENIAL OF STATE GRANT FUNDS. (a) A local
entity may not receive state grant funds, and state grant funds for
the local entity shall be denied, for the state fiscal year
following the year in which a final judicial determination in an
action brought under Section 364.003 is made that the entity has
intentionally violated Section 364.002.
(b) The comptroller shall adopt rules to implement this
section uniformly among the state agencies from which state grant
funds are distributed to a municipality or county.
(c) A local entity that has not violated Section 364.002 may
not be denied state grant funds, regardless of whether the entity is
a part of another entity that is in violation of that section.
SECTION 4. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b) of this
section:
(1) Subchapter PP, Chapter 2306, Government Code, as
added by this Act, applies only to the designation and use of
property described by that subchapter that first begins on or after
the effective date of this Act; and
(2) the designation and use of property described by
Subchapter PP, Chapter 2306, Government Code, as added by this Act,
that first began before the effective date of this Act is governed
by the law in effect when the designation and use first began, and
the former law is continued in effect for that purpose.
(b) Subchapter PP, Chapter 2306, Government Code, as added
by this Act, applies to a public park, as described by Section
2306.1124, Government Code, as added by this Act, regardless of the
date that the public park was first designated by a political
subdivision to be used by homeless individuals to camp.
(c) A political subdivision that designated a property to be
used by homeless individuals to camp before the effective date of
this Act may apply on or after that date for approval of a plan under
Subchapter PP, Chapter 2306, Government Code, as added by this Act.
SECTION 5. This Act takes effect September 1, 2021.

______________________________ ______________________________
President of the Senate Speaker of the House

I certify that H.B. No. 1925 was passed by the House on May 6,
2021, by the following vote: Yeas 88, Nays 56, 2 present, not
voting; and that the House concurred in Senate amendments to H.B.
No. 1925 on May 28, 2021, by the following vote: Yeas 101, Nays 45,
1 present, not voting.

______________________________
Chief Clerk of the House

I certify that H.B. No. 1925 was passed by the Senate, with
amendments, on May 20, 2021, by the following vote: Yeas 27, Nays
4.

______________________________
Secretary of the Senate
APPROVED: __________________
Date

__________________
Governor

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After more than 30 years with radio and TV stations, I decided to do my own thing by blogging. It affords me the ability to stay super involved in the community, but still, have plenty of time with my 3 new granddaughters and other local projects.

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