Ross Ramsey: man bites dog, tries to make amends | opinion

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Greg Abbott seeks to break free from a treasonous political mistake.

Earlier this year, the Texas governor vetoed dog protection laws.

State lawmakers knew what they were doing when they passed Senate Bill 474 during the regular legislature earlier this year, which in part said, “An owner must not leave a dog outside and unattended by using a restraint unless the Owner provides dog access to: Adequate shelter; an area that allows the dog to avoid stagnant water and any other substance that could harm the health of a dog who is exposed to the substance for long periods of time, including feces or urine; Shade from direct sunlight; and drinking water. “

Seems reasonable if you like animals.

But the governor, himself a proud dog owner (Pancake and Peaches, if you’re curious) thought the legislation was a violation of the rights of the dog’s best friend, who is believed to be allowed to bind and leave dogs on any old thing outside.

The governor didn’t say it that way. In the signed veto message accompanying the bill, he wrote, “Texans love their dogs, so it’s no surprise that our bylaws are already protecting them by outlawing real cruelty to animals. But Senate Act 474, under threat of criminal penalties, would force any dog ​​owner to monitor things like dog collar trimming, the time the dog spends in the back of a truck, and the tether to dog length ratio. measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. Texas is no place for this kind of micromanagement and over-criminalization. “

The governor’s veto is every political opponent’s dream. Any Meathead who’s seen a political ad could write it.

The camera starts with a shot of a yard with a post, with a chain attached to the post and collar of a sad dog.

Announcer: This is Skippy. Skippy’s owner went shopping and forgot to leave water next to this circle of filth where Skippy spends most of his time.

Camera zooms in on the dog.

Announcer: Skippy is hot. Skippy is thirsty.

The camera zooms in on Skippy’s face.

Announcer: Some people think this is a terrible way to treat a dog or other animal. The Texan legislature agrees. Republicans and Democrats alike backed a bill this year that would punish people for doing this to their dogs.

Announcer: Greg Abbott has vetoed.

The camera shows Skippy turning his head in confusion.

Perhaps you would handle advertising differently, but anyone campaigning against Greg Abbott would be negligent not to talk about dog protection.

And the governor, or someone who works for the governor, apparently found that out. He added the issue to the agenda of the legislature’s third special session, which will mainly be about redrawing new political maps and spending $ 16 billion on federal COVID-19 relief funds. He’s trying to clean up his mess.

Abbott has also picked up a few hot political topics that failed in previous special sessions. One would require that transgender student athletes play on sports teams based on their gender at birth instead of their gender identity. Another would curtail local government’s vaccine mandates.

These are serious problems that have stalled after heated debates in both the legislature and the electorate that the legislature seeks to represent. Two more were left on purpose for this third special session. If the legislature doesn’t draw new political maps, it risks letting judges do it. And spending $ 16 billion on federal pandemic aid is on everyone’s list of things to do.

Only one of the five topics is new on the governor’s to-do list. The Dog Act was passed during the regular session that ended in May, and the governor vetoed it in June.

He didn’t put it on his list of priorities at the first or second special session – gatherings where restrictive elections and anti-abortion laws were high on the governor’s agenda.

But it’s here now, added to the dry language to-dos of the governor’s pronouncements: “Legislation similar to Senate Law 474 as adopted by the 87

Somebody must have barked.

– Ross Ramsey is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of the Texas Tribune.

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