Homeless camping debate playing out in Texas Legislature as well

The debate of House Bill 1925 started with an opinion from state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) that seemed hard to disagree with.

"There is no one, literally no one who believes living outside without shelter is right, or the right thing today," said Capriglione.

Capriglione's legislation would create a statewide ban on setting up a camp on public property without permission. He pointed to the camps in Austin as a prime example of what should not be allowed.

"After our recent winter storm, Ascension-Seton Medical Center doctors saw about 50 people with frostbite, including more than a dozen who had to be hospitalized, they amputated 11 feet, five people had both feet amputated. Others needed part of their feet or hands removed," said Capriglione.

As Capriglione continued to speak, he was challenged with a Point of Order from state Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin). That was the start of several challenges, including a familiar question from state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin).


"Does this bill solve the problem of homelessness," he asked.

Capriglione responded by saying he believes HB 1925 will help. "This bill does a few different things that will help get us to the next part of helping homeless," said Capriglione.

Capriglione believes HB 1925 will force local communities to find real solutions. State Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) voiced concern that the ban bill as written moves too fast.

"It says they must immediately move and so how can one immediately move if they don’t know where to go. Even tenants, renters get a chance to find location and move, but this bill says they will be immediately moved, and or they would be fined and or other consequences," said Gervin-Hawkins.


Gervin-Hawkins argued for a transition period like the 72 hours allowed by San Antonio.

"Representative, what I would say is, if I see someone suffering, I would not want to wait three days to help them," said Capriglione.

Gervin-Hawkins agreed she wants to help people who are suffering but not by putting them in jail.

"We should, right and we have the opportunity here to say, that we are going to immediately go and provide conversation, notice and movement on this issue. And as far as the city of Austin, we gave them time ... gave them time since we were gone ... and it’s still going on," said Capriglione.

A final vote on HB 1925 was not made because it was sent back to committee, apparently to be reworked. There is a companion Senate Bill, but it remains in committee, and may not move forward unless the House Bill stalls.