Governor Rejects Expanded Definition of Harassment Proposed by Texas Legislature

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a bill that would have expanded the existing cyberbullying law to include indirect bullying, such as when people post or send hostile messages to others about a person they are bullying. Advocates stated that the bill would have closed a loophole in the current law, which can subject to children to continued bullying, even if it is not directed toward the children themselves. For instance, the bill would have addressed the situation last year in which a Texas middle school student posted videos online on six female classmates along with obscene comments. This situation resulted in harassment by other students and one of the targeted students attempted suicide.

Governor Rejects Expanded Definition of Harassment Proposed by Texas Legislature

Gov. Abbott characterized the bill as overbroad, in that it would include behaviors that the legislature did not intend to criminalize, such as members of the public who criticize public officials in social media posts. The bill would have targeted online posts that were likely to “annoy” or “harass” others, which arguably could include the criticisms of elected officials. Critics of the measure also cited potential legal challenges to the bill if the Governor were to sign it into law.

Although the legislature was successful in establishing new laws and funding related to sexual assault, various bills addressing different aspects of sexual harassment, particularly in the workplace, all died. Much of the pushback on these bills came from the business lobby, which has been historically resistant to any expanded rights for workers. Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to assisting individuals to resolve their criminal charges. We will work with you to achieve the most favorable outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled criminal defense attorneys today.

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