Once thought to have died by procedure, popular outcry against the TSA’s despicable policies may be resurrecting HB 1937. The Lt. Governor now recommends the anti-groping bill for the special legislative session in a letter to the Governor.
Last March, Texas State Representative David P. Simpson (HD-7, Longview, TX) introduced companion bills HB 1937, HB 1938, and HCR 80. HB 1937 proposes to make it a felony crime for federal bureaucrats to “sexually grope” travelers in Texas without probable cause during an enhanced security pat-down, while HB 1938 banned the use of a “naked body” imaging scanner without informed consent and probable cause at Texas airports. HCR 80 was an official statement of strong opposition against unwarranted searches directed to the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Safety Administration (“TSA”).
While all bills were unanimously recommended for passage by their House committees, only the “anti-groping” bill (HB 1937) was presented in time before the full House of Representatives, where it passed by unanimous majority. The Texas legislature only meets for 140 days once every two years and House bills that did not make it to the House floor by midnight on May 12th died by procedure.
The surviving bill was unanimously recommended by the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security committee, and was poised to pass the Senate with another unanimous vote on May 24th, when the TSA and U.S Department of Justice unlawfully descended upon the Texas Senate and issued threats to turn Texas into a “no-fly zone”. Rattled Senators withdrew their support, forcing Senator Dan Patrick (SD-7), the bill’s Senate sponsor, to withdraw the bill in the hope that a popular outcry would allow him to re-introduce it the following day as nerves settled.
Visitors to StopAustinScanners launched over 1300 emails in the 24 hours that followed to give Senator Patrick the grounds to re-introduce the bill the following night. Unfortunately, HB 1937 effectively died by procedure in the regular session as an effort was organized to filibuster the bill. As the regular legislative session was drawing to a close, the threatened filibuster would have killed other legislation pending in the Senate. Once again, Senator Patrick withdrew the bill to preserve goodwill amongst its supporters.
In the days that followed, citizens across Texas spoke loudly and clearly about the goings on in our state legislature. Tonight, your voices are starting to be heard. The Quorum Report has acknowledged that Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has sent Governor Rick Perry a letter recommending that HB 1937 be reconsidered in a special extended session of the legislature. Gov. Perry only plans to call the recommended financial bills at present.
You can encourage the Governor to call HB 1937 for the special session and send a message to the TSA that Texas says: “COME AND TAKE IT!”
Related files: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s letter to Gov. Rick Perry.