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...and afternoon text update
(Office of the Governor)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's public safety priorities for the current legislative session include making it "fiscally impossible" for municipalities to defund their police departments and a statewide plan to address homelessness that will include a ban on public camping. Both are clear rebukes to recent policy changes enacted by local elected officials.

"We cannot and will not allow Austin to defund the police," Abbott said during a press conference on Thursday. "Texas must set the example for the United States of America, not only to support law enforcement but to fully fund law enforcement agencies."

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(Charlie L. Harper III)

With the Texas Legislature now in session, local public safety supporters and reform advocates are paying close attention to the public safety bills being filed in the aftermath of last summer's protests against police violence and the Austin City Council's decision to cut police funding.

In particular, they are looking for a bill that matches up with a piece of draft legislation that is supported by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and would, if passed, put the Austin Police Department under state control—while remaining fully funded by the city of Austin.

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(City of Austin)

Austin's newly sworn in council members were joined by Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Spencer Cronk and Austin Municipal Court Presiding Judge Sherry Statman in a virtual swearing in ceremony on Wednesday.

In the aftermath of a tumultuous day that saw a violent mob of the president's supporters storm the U.S. Capitol, five Austin City Council members were sworn in for a new term, virtually, on Wednesday evening. They included new members Vanessa Fuentes, who will represent Southeast Austin's District 2, and Mackenzie Kelly, who will represent Northwest Austin's District 6.

"Reflecting on the images we all observed in our nation's Capitol today, tonight we honor these sacred rituals of peaceful transfer of power that safeguard our democracy," District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool said.

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Two days before New Year's Day, 21-year-old Miranda Gloria Lopez died of a gunshot wound. She was shot three days before during a road rage incident that is still being investigated, according to the Austin Police Department.

Lopez was Austin's last homicide victim in 2020, a year in which 48 people were killed. This represents a 33% increase since 2019, when 36 homicides were reported and marked at least a 10-year high.

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