It flew through the House with nary a word against it in the regular session.
But today Speaker Joe Straus called the anti-TSA-groping bill “ill-advised” and a “not well-researched” publicity stunt, after quickly gaveling in and out a five-minute floor session this morning.
The possible lack of quorum may have been the official reason that bill did not get a floor debate this morning (see footnote below). But behind the scenes there was a debate over the legality of Rep. David Simpson’s (R-Longview) HB 41, which criminalizes the touching of certain body parts by Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) workers.
“I think the philospohy is right, I think it’s the challengability in court that’s the issue,” said House Calendars Committee Chairman Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi).
Hunter did not comment on why such a meeting of the minds did not occur during the regular session. HB 1937, HB 41’s predecessor, passed without objection on the House floor May 13, before hitting a bump in the Senate on May 24.
Maybe this time Simpson’s opponents were afraid the bill would actually become law, whereas in the regular session it seemed more of a longshot.
Straus said HB 41, as worded, would have made Texas the “laughingstock” of the country.
“So if he [Straus] is so concerned about the mockery, why didn’t he stop it then [in May]?” Simpson said during an impromptu press conference this morning.
Hunter explained the impasse stemmed from discussions held over the last several days on the legal concept of “probable cause” vs. “reasonable suscipicion” for the reason travelers may be detained (and groped) at an airport checkpoint. The conclusion was that Simpson’s bill needs to allow for “reasonable suspicion” for legal purposes.
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