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SB 923 would amend the Penal Code’s chapter entitled “Bribery and Corrupt Influence” to reflect further ways to obtain an offense under the charge of “obstruction or retaliation.” This would add that a person who posts a telephone or residence address of a public servant or someone within their family with the intent to cause harm in retaliation for the public servant’s action would be liable to receive a third degree felony. The charge would be increased to a second degree felony if the victim or their associated family was threatened or harmed.
This bill would amend the statute to clarify what prima facie evidence would be considered for this offense. This would include a written demand that was not acquiesced in a timely manner or which was merely reposted.
Public officials connected with the criminal justice system, both on the law enforcement side and the judicial side, can be more prone to revenge targeting than most other citizens due to the nature of their work. It makes sense to protect them from intimidation.
That being said, SB 923 would protect the individual liberty of select public officials and their families without offering the same protection to all Texans. Even considering that public officials may be targets for intimidation, there are still plenty of other citizens who are subject to the same treatment. There should be equal protection under the law for all citizens from intentional harm caused by others rather than special protection for a select class of people based merely on their occupation or status in society. For these reasons we are neutral on SB 923.
If this bill was written to protect every citizen from retaliation it would be easily supportable. Were the bill to be amended to protect all citizens from the offenses described in this bill we would fully support its adoption.