6/28/2011 7:17 PM
As the rest of the House adjourned its next-to-last day of the special session, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted 7-1 this evening to refer SB 29 to the House floor tomorrow.
But the chances are steep that they can get the "hard 120" votes required to pass the bill.
Committee Chairman Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) said SB 29, the Senate's version of the anti-TSA-groping bill, contains language which limits offenses to federal agents, not local law enforcement, among other changes. Such consolations help and hurt, he explained.
"I happen to agree with the message -- though I did think we were a little overzealous at times," he said. "I do think we need to take a step back and review where we are and how we got there."
Gallego said a simple majority vote can bring the anti-groping bill to the floor. That won't be hard to pitch, Gallego said.
"Here's the challenge: We've got to get it to third reading ... in one day, and that requires 4/5," he said. "... That's "a hard 4/5 of all members. A hundred-and-twenty must be present, and they all must vote."
"So statistically, the odds ... are a little more difficult," Gallego added.
On the quality of the bill itself, Gallego said "the civil libertarian in me" doesn't like some of the softening the bill received.
Gallego said some are concerned that the bill may be "punishing the messenger" so to speak -- penalizing agents rather than going after Transportation Safety Administration policy as a whole.
The Chairman said he would leave the decision to the will of the committee, as "my local folks told me I should not vote for it or let it out of committee."
Some Democrats, explained Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), were concerned that politically charged comments associating TSA with the Obama Administration have doomed the bill from getting sufficient Democratic support.
Rodriguez removed his name, saying the issue had become "a Texas vs. the federal government" scenario, and that it now goes too far.
"To me it's Texas protecting its citizens," responded Rep. Jose Aliseda (R-Beeville).
Gallego added that it passed the House chamber nearly unanimously in the regular session in its (arguably stricter) form -- HB 1937, which was recrafted by author Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) as HB 41 for the special session.
Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale) said it was regretable that the anti-groping bill "has taken on a life of its own."
"And that's unfortunate, because there are now implications that weren't meant to be there," she said.
Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center) said names were called to "certain members of certain groups" that supported the anti-groping bill.
He said he regrets that the bill became endangered "because of two loudmouths."
(Note: Judging by the context of the committee's discussion, that was Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who used the bill to slam the Obama Administration in a press release, and Sen. Dan Patrick, the author of SB 29 who gave a rather impassioned speech on the eve of its defeat. It's worth noting that TSA is a Bush Administration invention carried over by the Obama Administration).
Gallego said there was "no question in mind" that "significant damage" had been done by "inflamatory language" regarding the bill. Burkett said she wished someone would have had the courage to say that from the floor.
However there was general consensus that the author of the bill deserved credit for his courage in pursuing the issue.
"David Simpson deserves credit for not letting go," Gallego said, meeting several nods.
* * *
Deal or no deal for the anti-TSA-groping bill, the prolonging of the House special session by another day puts another bill back into play.
HB 79, the courts reform bill, has new life. The Senate version strips out Rep. Leo Berman's (R-Tyler) anti-Sharia Law provisions, and with the Senate now adjourned sine die if the House adopts the Senate amendments as their own it could pass.
Gallego noted that the House intended to adjourn sine die today, but would meet on Wednesday to take up SB 29, and possibly other business. That could mean HB 79, which was originally in his committee's care, might receive a hearing.
"I think we're all tired," he said.
3 comment(s) so far...
By Chris Howe on
6/29/2011 9:51 AM
It is four-fifths of members present
House Rule 8 Section 15
A bill shall not have the force of law until it has been read on three several legislative days in each house and free discussion allowed, unless this provision is suspended by a vote of _four-fifths of the members present and voting_, a quorum being present. The yeas and nays shall be taken on the question of suspension and entered in the journal.
By Mike on
6/29/2011 9:51 AM
Please pass this bill! This is an important first step in bringing TSA under control.
TSA really needs to be reigned in. They are nothing more than federal crime wave committing continuous crimes and civil rights violations against the American people.
At Travel Underground, one of our members has a compiled an incredible list of TSA crimes and abuses committed over just a seven-month period:
Please work to reform this rogue agency -- American travelers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. The proposed Texas legislation is just one small step towards this desperately needed reform. Other states are looking to Texas to provide an example.
Mike, Executive Director
By Andy Hogue on
6/29/2011 9:52 AM
Thank you, Chris. It's duly noted, and I'll ask the chairman and Mr. Simpson on the floor about that later today.