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Mosquito-Fighting Plan Allows Access To Private Property With No Warrant

by J.D. Miles & Angela Martin
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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) J.D. Miles
J.D. is an award-winning reporter who has been covering North T...
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PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – With West Nile season approaching soon, there’s a controversial bill in the state legislature that would give the government more power to kill mosquitoes.

Texas State Senate Bill 186 would allow authorities to legally trespass on private property without a warrant to treat stagnant water if it “…is reasonably presumed to be abandoned or that is uninhabited.”

State Senator John Carona introduced the bill telling CBS 11, “This is an important health and safety issue.”

Plano health officials believe it will help efforts to combat the West Nile Virus because it will allow for the immediate treatment of problem areas.

Plano resident David Johnson says the plan could have helped his neighborhood had it been in place last summer.

Johnson’s family lives next to a home with a stagnant pool, which is prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. He complained to the City of Plano, which had to get a warrant to finally address the problem since the owner couldn’t be found.

“It took months of notices on the door before any action was taken,” recalls Johnson. “It’s just an absolute nightmare.”

But some legal experts worry that any exception to obtaining warrants will eventually lead to more government access of private property everywhere.

“Are we going to have the potential for government workers going into these houses without going through the proper steps?” questions attorney Pete Schulte. “Does this give the government too much leeway?”

The bill has several hurdles to overcome, including privacy concerns, before becoming law. However, those who live near high-risk areas say they fear an invasion of mosquitoes more than an invasion of privacy.

The 2012 West Nile season was the worst on record in Texas. More than 1800 were infected, 86 people died.

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