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Relating to an election to approve a reduction or reallocation of funding or resources for certain county law enforcement agencies.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 23 would require a county with more than 1 million people to hold an election to secure voter approval if the county's proposed budget reduces the appropriation to their primary law enforcement agency (proportional to the overall budget), reduces the number of peace officer positions (proportional to the population), or reallocates funding to a different law enforcement agency. A significant budget reduction as a result of a natural disaster would be exempt from the requirement. The ballot proposition would have to include detailed information on each proposed change and the county would not be allowed to use public funding to campaign for a certain side of the election.
SB 23 would permit a resident of a county who believes the county has violated this requirement to file a complaint with the Governor's office. The Comptroller, upon referral of a valid complaint by the Governor’s office, would have to investigate whether the county has violated the election requirements. If the Comptroller finds that the county implemented a reduction without voter approval, the county would be barred from increasing their ad valorem tax rate.
This legislation is clearly an attempt to address the problem of certain local governments choosing to significantly defund their police departments; an issue the state has a legitimate interest in correcting. The approach of SB 23 has the meritorious distinction of leaving the final decision in the hands of the people who would have to live with the results of defunding the police which uplifts our individual liberty and limited government principles. For these reasons we support SB 23.