- Deleted - Authorization for police officers to install GPS tracking devices on vehicles without a court order;
- Deleted - Drivers license and insurance checkpoints that critics said would function as de facto immigration checkpoints;
- Modified - In the original, a peace officer was required to check the immigration status of someone they were arresting. Law enforcement groups expressed concern that such a mandate would take up ungodly amounts of time. Immigrant advocates worried that individual officers wouldn't necessarily have the requisite expertise. Now, the status-check happens at the jail under the federal Secure Communities Initiative, a controversial program that has rapidly transitioned being voluntary to mandatory.
Sen. Jose Rodriguez, a former El Paso county attorney, voted against SB 9, in part because of Secure Communitites' disturbing record of snatching up legal residents and even citizens. "Nationwide, there have been thousands of cases of U.S. citizens being detained as undocumented immigrants and tens of thousands of immigrants apprehended without a criminal conviction," he said in a statement after the vote. "This is a broken system and not one we should mandate."
- Modified - The DPS pilot project for automated license plate readers (background here) remains in the bill, albeit with some constraints. Sen. Kirk Watson, an Austin Democrat, got Williams to accept changes that will require that all data collected from the devices be deleted after one year. Any agreements to share the data beyond DPS would be subject to the Texas Public Information Act, though the data itself would be unavailable to the public.
"It's a very useful tool for law enforcement," said Williams, "but I'm also senstiive that we don't want Big Brother looking over our shoulder any more than we have to."
Notably, SB 9 pays for its multi-million dollar costs by doubling a fee that the Lege is already diverting from its "dedicated" source. According to the fiscal note, SB 9 would raise almost $90 million per year by requiring "an insurer to pay a fee of $2, rather than $1, multiplied by the total number of motor vehicle years of insurance for policies delivered, issued, or renewed. The bill would authorize fifty percent of each fee to be appropriated only to the Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority." So this is bad fiscal policy as well as troubling from a civil liberties perspective. I don't see one thing in this bill that's actually, presently needed.