EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser filed a veto against an action taken by City Council during its August 15 meeting that would eliminate the juvenile curfew ordinance.
City Council received a presentation Tuesday outlining a new Texas state law, H.B. 1819, which prohibits cities from enforcing their own curfews on people 18 and under. The only exception under the new law is for emergency management, such as when the city issued a curfew during the early days of the pandemic.
Since El Paso currently has a juvenile ordinance provision under sections 10.20.010 through 10.20.054 of the city code, City Council voted to eliminate the curfew and follow the new state law, which goes into effect September 1, 2023.
On August 15, present councilmembers voted unanimously to eliminate the juvenile curfew. Only Representative Salcido was absent from the meeting.
Mayor Leeser filed a veto with the City Clerk August 17.
"Since the action was taken," the mayor explains in his filing, "the feedback I have received from community members overwhelmingly supports retaining the ordinance as it stands. I have received reaction from El Pasoans with serious concerns over the negative impact lifting the curfew would have on our community."
Mayor Leeser says he also spoke with the El Paso Police Department and Sheriff's Office. Both organizations echoed the public reaction he had been receiving, the mayor said.
"I believe discretionary authority on this matter should rest at the local level," the mayor stated, "directly in relation to local constituent concerns."
The mayor added that criminal recruitment and increased access to fentanyl are two nocturnal threats particularly facing El Paso's youth.
"Any tool that allows our community to safeguard the safety of our children is a tool worth keeping."
Mayor Leeser says this veto is his first step in a "concentrated effort" to force the Texas state legislature to reconsider this new law.
Council first adopted the juvenile curfew on August 31, 1991. It has been renewed by council every three years since then. Under the ordinance, teens and children found violating curfew, as well as their parents, can be charged with a class C misdemeanor. The fine is usually about $500. The curfew starts at 11 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m.