Yesterday evening, Governor Rick Perry added the TSA anti-groping legislation to the special session call, and the Texas Legislature will again take up this topic for consideration as early as Friday, June 24th. If passed, this bill will mark the first legislation in the country with "teeth" to combat the TSA "enhanced pat-downs" and protect dignity and liberty among our state's airport travelers.
During the regular session, this legislation was known as House Bill 1937 and was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives. However, the bill was halted in the Senate after the U.S. Department of Justice delivered a factually inaccurate letter concerning the bill, threatening immediate injunctions against the state.
Texas Republicans have not stood idly by at this level of intimidation from the federal bureaucracy. At the onset of the special session, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst wrote a letter to Governor Rick Perry which asked him to add the anti-groping legislation to the call. That weekend at the June State Republican Executive Committee meeting, the SREC echoed this sentiment by voting overwhelmingly in support of a resolution urging Governor Perry to add this bill to the call. Since that resolution was delivered to the Governor, SREC members have also been working to contact Republican legislators to ask them to urge the Governor to add the bill to the call.
The author of the legislation is freshman Republican Representative David Simpson, who has become a national champion of putting an end to the TSA's use of "enhanced pat-downs" without probable cause, since filing the bill in March. At the June SREC meeting, Representative Simpson laid out the case and need for this legislation and received a standing ovation from the body, before the passage of the resolution in support of adding it to the special session call. His efforts have drawn national attention to the overreach of the Transportation Safety Administration and their attempt to establish the supremacy of this bureaucracy's policies over the U.S. Constitution.
In the Texas Senate, Senator Dan Patrick has also made this legislation a priority item and announced last week that he had secured enough support in the Texas Senate to win passage in that chamber. The Senate version of the bill is Senate Bill 29, and was filed by Senator Patrick last week. The House version, House Bill 41, has garnered broad bi-partisan support of 114 co-sponsors in the Texas House and is poised for easy passage.
Both of these bills have been crafted with input and specific language from Attorney General Greg Abbott, who requested the authors to draft the legislation with certain wording to ensure it will be upheld in the face of any potential court challenges.
The Republican Party of Texas wishes to thank Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Representative David Simpson, Senator Dan Patrick and Attorney General Greg Abbott for their efforts to advance and pass this legislation. The RPT urges all Texas Republicans to contact their State Representative and State Senator to urge their support and vote in favor of passage as the bill is considered over the next several days.