Simpson Asks Perry to Add TSA Bill to Call (Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun / AP)
By Beth Brown
State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, is making a last push to get anti-groping legislation added to the special session agenda.
Simpson sent a letter to Gov. Rick Perry on Sunday requesting House Bill 41 be added to the call, after attempts to pass it during the regular session were thwarted when the Department of Justice suggested the measure was in violation of federal law.
The bill would criminalize any intentional, knowing or reckless touching of a person’s private parts during a security screening, including through clothing. John E. Murphy, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, wrote in a letter to the Texas House and Senate that Simpson’s bill would interfere with the TSA’s civil aviation security responsibilities. The letter and a regular session visit of two TSA officers to Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston and the Senate sponsor of the bill, effectively killed support for it.
House Bill 41 was passed unanimously by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on June 14, and is co-authored by 112 legislators of both parties. Patrick filed similar legislation in the Senate (SB 29) on June 15 and delivered a letter to Perry’s office saying he had the votes to pass it in the upper chamber. Simpson said in his letter that there is “broad bipartisan support” for the bill, and that it is Perry’s time to “protect innocent people from unreasonable searches of their person by their own government.”
Over the weekend, Perry was in New Orleans signing copies of his new book Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington when he was asked about the future of anti-TSA legislation in Texas. He responded that the Legislature “doesn’t have the votes on either side” to pass the bill.
“I said, ‘bring me a multitude of votes,’” Perry said. “…And they never had those votes.”
In the video posted on the website tsatyranny.com, Perry said he had not seen Patrick’s letter indicating the Senate had the votes. Perry said there was “probably not enough time” left in the session to bring up the legislation.
Simpson said he spoke to Todd Hunters, chairman of the calendars’ committee, and said he felt there was enough time to bring the bill to call. Simpson said it would take about a day to pass through the House, and is waiting for the governors’ call.