In today’s meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee (“SREC”), the Texas Republican Party passed a resolution that urged Governor Rick Perry to call HB 1937 into the current special legislative session. This is the highly publicized bill by State Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) which make TSA employees liable for criminal penalties for inappropriately touching passengers during pat downs. The RLC in Texas and nationwide has taken the lead on supporting this important civil liberties legislation.
The Texas State Legislature is only allowed to convene a regular legislative session for 140 days once every 2 years. Many Texans believe the strict limitation on political “law-making” is the main reason why Texas enjoys greater freedom and economic prosperity than other states. Other Texans believe the State Legislature should only meet for 2 days once every 140 years.
The Governor has the right to call one or more “special sessions” of the State Legislature to consider emergency legislation. These special legislative sessions may last from several days to a month.
After having been implicated in the procedural death of the anti-groping bill during the regular legislative session, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst later reversed course and recommended HB 1937 for the current special session in a letter to Governor Rick Perry. To date, Gov. Perry has not called the bill, claiming he needed to determine if there was a “consensus” of support for it.
Well, today, another nearly unanimous consensus was added on to the pile of overwhelmingly strong support for the “restrain-the-TSA” legislation, as the SREC passed the following resolution without debate at its meeting in Austin, Texas. Only one committee member voted in opposition to the resolution.
RESOLUTION on TSA “enhanced pat-down” Opposition, supporting HB-1937 in Special Session
Whereas 82R HB 1937 (now known as HB 41 in the current special session) safeguards basic rights defined under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for persons traveling in Texas;
Whereas “enhanced pat-downs” by the Transportation Safety Administration are administrative policies established by federal bureaucracy and not statutory law enacted by federal government and therefore cannot hold supremacy over the U.S. Constitution or the Texas State Constitution;
Whereas it is unlawful for properly trained law enforcement officers to perform “enhanced pat-downs” as performed by the Transportation Safety Administration;
Whereas HB 1937 received a unanimous recommendation from the House Criminal Jurisprudence committee;
Whereas HB 1937 was unanimously passed by the Texas House of Representatives;
Whereas HB 1937 received a unanimous recommendation from the Texas Senate Transportation and Homeland Security committee;
Whereas HB 1937 had oral expressions of support from 30 of 31 Texas State Senators prior to being scheduled for hearing on the Senate floor;
Whereas Senate passage of HB 1937 was halted at the eleventh hour after the U.S. Department of Justice delivered a factually inaccurate letter concerning the effect of HB 1937 and that threatened an immediate injunction which included “canceling a flight or series of flights”
Whereas this level of intimidation establishes grounds for a constitutional crisis;
Whereas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has now recommended HB 1937 for the current special session of the State Legislature;
Be It Resolved that the State Republican Executive Committee urges Governor Rick Perry to call 82R HB 1937–now filed as HB 41–as emergency legislation so that it may be considered by the Texas Legislature in special session.
All Texans should applaud the SREC for unambiguously standing up to what appeared to some to be pressure from the party establishment not to make this clear statement. Republican parties in other states are watching what happens in Texas and will be looking at how this situation develops in pursuing similar legislation in their states.
This is not the end of the story. Governor Perry still needs to get on board to support the bill. If you are in Texas, please call Governor Perry’s office at 512-463-2000 NOW and say that you are IN FAVOR of HB 1937, and that HB 1937 needs the Governor’s FULL SUPPORT and should be passed in the upcoming special session.
Remind the Governor that anything less would undermine his “Fed Up” campaign for the U.S. presidency. You can also tell representatives in the Texas House and Senate it should tell the TSA to Come and Take It!