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State House Fails To Pass TSA Pat-Down Bill

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AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas House ended the first special session of the 82nd Legislature, passing critical bills, but failing to pass perhaps the most debated: a measure to criminalize airport security searches without reasonable suspicion.

The House adjourned a day after the Senate, which wrapped up business on Tuesday. Both chambers sent must-pass budgetary and hurricane insurance bills that were the impetus of the special session. Approval of those bills means there is little reason for the governor to call another special session.

The airport security bill, which attracted national attention, did not get a final vote after lawmakers failed to suspend the Constitutional rule that a bill be voted on twice over two separate days. The bill’s supporters needed 120 out of 150 lawmakers to suspend the rule to vote on it twice on the same day, which also happened to be the last day of the special session.

The motion to suspend the Constitution failed on a 96-26 vote. There are 101 Republicans and 49 Democrats in the House, but 26 lawmakers did not show up for Wednesday.

Most Democrats opposed the bill because supporters characterize it as defying Obama Administration policies on airport security.

The bill would have made it a crime for airport security to intentionally touch someone inappropriately without reasonable suspicion. It would have made only a slight change to existing law and may have been unenforceable.

The chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee, Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego, said he state law enforcement and district attorney associations had told him they opposed the bill because it would force them to prosecute federal employees for following national guidelines.

Simpson gave an angry speech just before the House adjourned, accusing lawmakers of hypocrisy, violating the 9th Commandment not to bear false witness and misleading the public. He specifically singled out Speaker Joe Straus for killing the bill behind the scenes.

Last week, Straus told reporters he thought the measure was an “ill-advised publicity stunt.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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