Just a few days ago I was blogging about how the Anti-Grope TSA Bill (aka HB 41) was about to pass and send a message to the feds on 4th Amendment rights. Little did I know that as I was pecking away on my keyboard, the bill was dying somewhere in Austin.
How did the bill die? Well, there is no concrete evidence. The poo is flying all over the place in Texas and the big wigs are looking for shields, so double-check everything you read and hear on this one. What I offer is the opinion of yours truly, with a spot of political insight and investigation mixed in.
I think I should start by going back a smidge in time to point the proper finger to the culprit that killed the bill during the regular Session of the Texas Legislature. That person is Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. The original bill authored by Texas Rep. David Simpson had already passed the Texas House and was on its way to passing in the Texas Senate. When US Attorney John Murphy sent a letter to Texas Legislators threatening a government shutdown of flights out of Texas if the bill passed, it was Dewhurst who went weak in the knees. If you would like to send a love letter to the Lt. Gov his fax is 512-463-0677 . Never has a leader so high in Texas Republican politics failed so many in one swift move. It showed a lack of courage, an abdication of leadership, as well as flushing out logical sense. The TSA was not about to shut down Texas flights – the threat was weak and everyone knew it. Unfortunately, the Texas Senate still has too many RINO’s and Dewhurst is leader of the pack and killed the bill in debate. Dewhurst also meddled in the Special Session vote by issuing press releases just a few days before the needed 3rd reading and vote. The press releases hammered the Dems in DC and ticked off Texas Dems who were in support of the bill. Bad timing and poor judgement to play partisan on an issue where none was needed. So when the hammer starts falling in Texas for the failure to pass this much-needed legislation, Dewhurst’s name needs to be at the top of the list. Should current Gov Rick Perry run for President and have a successful bid, this man’s steps in as Gov. Geesh…..
The next person that aided in the untimely death of HB 41 was Governor Rick Perry, albeit not by intention. The Governor of Texas controls the agenda of Special Sessions and Perry should have placed the TSA Bill right on the list from the start. The delay ended up placing HB41 in a procedural rift. The Texas Constitutional protocol requires 3 readings during a session ro pass. The bill got 2 readings but needed a third to pass. The bill was not read a third time Wednesday amid numerous rumors that are not confirmed. The only way to suspend that protocol and vote for a bill without 3 readings is by having 4/5th of House voting on the measure. That is 80% of Members and was not about to happen due to partisan politics and the fact the Speaker of the House allowed Members to leave Special Session early for vacation. Perry now has egg on his face for this gaffe in the House on what should have been a slam dunk.
The next finger points directly to Texas House Speaker Joe Strauss. The Speaker controls the legislative flow and could have worked to get the bill up in a more timely manner to avoid the procedural issue that helped to kill the bill. Strauss showed his stripes during the last week of the session by blasting the bill as a “publicity stunt” which cost Member support. The early vacations given to those lackey Members helped nail down the lid to the coffin.
Finally, the last finger needs to be pointed to Representatives Members who allowed this fail. A collaborative effort should have been pushed through by Members. A huge opportunity was allowed to slip by. How anyone explains this to voters is a trick to me.
There are those that say Representative David Simpson cost the bill, although never by intention. Stories are now circulating on how Simpson got sucked into a situation at a dinner table Tuesday night and made a rookie legislative mistake. Somehow he did not play ball with the power people and this bill died. Two days earlier, changes had been made to the bill upon recommendations by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott over specific words that needed changing to survive federal challenges. The changes would ensure that IF the feds wanted to challenge this law (and that was doubtful) that the challenge would zip right through Texas Federal Judges and sail on to the Supremes. That would take the TSA procedures and turn them into the 4th Amendment violation it needs to be. The rumor mill now is flowing that Simpson welched on the changes from the days before. This meant a another debate and there was no time. Pardon that pun, it was really bad. The challenge with this story is that there is nothing on the Texas Legislative website to corroborate the story.
So instead of making political history – a rotten egg was laid.
Going to need a large stockpile of air freshener to clear the stink out of the air on this one.
Gas mask please!