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Relating to the criminal punishment and conditions of community supervision for the offense of obstructing a highway or other passageway; increasing a criminal penalty.
Enhancing the penalty for a criminal offense is expected to result in additional demands on the correctional resources of the State. The probable fiscal impact of implementing the bill is indeterminate due to the lack of information on the number of cases of the offense of obstruction of a highway or passageway which specifically involved either the prevention of passage of certain emergency vehicles or obstruction of access to certain health care facilities. This information is necessary to identify, from among all cases of the offense, only those which, under the provisions of the bill, would be eligible for a penalty enhancement. Identifying these cases would provide a basis for determining the extent of the fiscal implications associated with implementing the provisions of the bill.
HB 9 would increase the penalty for obstructing a highway or passageway from a Class B misdemeanor to a state jail felony if the person knowingly blocks an emergency vehicle that is operating its lights or blocks access to a hospital or emergency medical care facility. A community supervision order for a person convicted of this state jail felony would have to require the person to spend at least 10 days in county jail.
Texas Action supports HB 9 which is consistent with the principles of limited government and individual liberty. Texas roads are largely funded by motor vehicle operators and are intended for vehicle traffic. They are also vital conduits for emergency services personnel. To knowingly obstruct the road deprives people of their right to use the road for its intended purpose, creates an obvious and foreseeable public safety hazard which the state has a legitimate interest in preventing, and may directly cause permanent injury or death if an emergency vehicle is prevented from getting where it needs to go.