What is San Antonio’s Prop A? Here’s an explainer of the justice policy

San Antonio voters will decide a proposition on the May 6 ballot that aims to enact sweeping reforms to policing, create a new position within the city focused on justice policies, and decriminalize abortion in the Alamo City. Proposition A, also known as the San Antonio Justice Charter, was placed on the ballot by the City Council in February after the petition received over 20,000 signatures. 

Since its placement on the ballot, city and public officials have expressed doubt over how much of the proposition is legally enforceable, while conservative opposition groups have pushed rhetoric that the initiative is a product of “Communism.” If passed in May, it would join similar propositions that passed in nearby Texas cities. 

Here’s a look at what is in Proposition A. 

What’s on the ballot? 

When the proposition was added to the ballot in February, Act4SA and proponents of the initiative asked for the wording to be simplified and spelled out more clearly for voters and easier translation into Spanish. 

Here is what the proposition calls for:

  • Decriminalize marijuana.
  • Decriminalize abortions in San Antonio.
  • Adopt cite and release on low level misdemeanors.
  • Ban police use of chokeholds.
  • Ban no-knock warrants.
  • Create a justice director within the city.

Mike Siegel, the Political Director of Ground Game and Ananda Tomas of ACT 4 SA sort boxes containing more than 37,000 signatures to decriminalize marijuana among other issues slated for the May ballot.

Mike Siegel, the Political Director of Ground Game and Ananda Tomas of ACT 4 SA sort boxes containing more than 37,000 signatures to decriminalize marijuana among other issues slated for the May ballot.

Jessica Phelps, Staff photographer / Jessica Phelps

Is it legal?

When the proposition was set to go before the City Council in February, City Attorney Andy Segovia told the Express-News that he believed only one part of Proposition A was enforceable, which is the creation of the Justice Director. Bexar County is already enforcing a cite and release program and the others would conflict with state law. Abortion and marijuana are currently outlawed in Texas. 

Proponents criticized Segovia’s comments at a February 16 meeting.

“Shame on the city attorney for using his position to do direct advocacy against the charter,” said resident Lisl Ost, a supporter of the proposition in February. “The only job of the attorney or [the] Council, should this pass, is to fight to back up their voters to any opposition.” 

Ground Game Texas co-founder and political director Mike Siegel told the Express-News that Segovia’s comment wasn’t completely true, saying that San Antonio is within its rights as a home rule city. 

What is a home rule city?

A home rule city, as laid out by Texas law, allows people of a municipality like San Antonio to decide how “scarce public resources” are allocated. The propositions in the Justice Charter ask the city not to allocate money on enforcement of marijuana misdemeanors and state abortion laws.

Austin, San Marcos, and more

Similar propositions were passed in Denton, San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin, and Harker Heights in December 2022, banning cite and release for less than 4 ounces of marijuana and removing marijuana smell as a probable cause. City officials were in the process of determining how to enforce these policy changes. 

In Austin, city officials created a policy that ended cite and release for small amounts of marijuana after residents passed the proposition with 85% of the vote in May 2022. The policy has yet to see any legal challenge from the Texas attorney general.

Other criticism

Danny Diaz, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, said in a statement that there is no “quick solution” to ensuring effective policing in San Antonio despite an officer shortage.

He argues that chokeholds and no-knock warrants have already been banned except in life or death situations, but the charter wants to stop “no matter if our officers’ lives are at risk.”

Diaz also says that the creation of a justice director would be redundant, performing duties already handled by the mayor, city manager, city council members, and the police chief.

When is the election?

The proposition will be on the ballot on May 6. Early voting will take place between from April 24 and continues into May 2.

Original News Source Link

Need digital marketing for your business? Check out KingdomX Digital Marketing San Antonio!