The idea that this bill is "symbolic" or only applies in "lower-level cases" couldn't be further from the truth. Grits replied thusly to Doctorow in the comments:
No, no no! Not symbolic at all! The overwhelming number of prosecutions including for the most serious cases like murder, sexual assault, child abuse, etc., all take place in STATE courts. The new warrant requirement applies in all those cases, which means it applies in most criminal cases in Texas, by a longshot. Ask your friends at EFF-Austin about it, they were part of the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition that promulgated and helped pass the bill. States get to establish their own rules of criminal procedure with SCOTUS rulings and federal law as a floor, so the law headed to Perry covers every state and local cop in Texas, which means peace officers at more than 2,600 agencies.Let's be clear: Texas and other states get to set their own search-warrant standards as long as they don't go below floors set by the US Supreme Court. Beyond that, federal criminal procedure applies to federal agents - the FBI, DHS, etc.. It doesn't necessarily govern how states handle criminal cases in their own jurisdictions. In this case, however, Texas law currently incorporates the ECPA statute by reference. What the Stickland amendment to HB 2268 did was to delete the sections of Texas' statute that incorporated ECPA, instead insisting that a warrant will always be required for state and local government to access cloud-based email, no matter how old, and whether opened, unopened, or in draft form.
Texas law doesn't apply to the FBI or other federal agencies operating here, but it does apply to state and local cops from the Texas Rangers to the lowliest two-man PD, every county sheriff, and Texas state agencies. In 2011, there were 256,664 felony cases processed in Texas state district courts according to the Office of Court Administrate (see here, p. 8 - add appointed and retained counsel totals).
By contrast, in the fiscal year ending August 2012, federal courts processed 94,121 cases nationwide, with just a fraction of them in Texas (see here, subtract civil cases from the total). In fact, in Texas the feds have been doing fewer traditional criminal cases because the Southern and Western Districts in particular have been overwhelmed with immigration cases, a situation exacerbated by the US Senate's inexplicable delays approving judicial appointments.
All this to say, the warrants for email legislation would apply in the overwhelming majority of criminal investigations in Texas, including in the most "serious" cases. The hundreds of people on Texas death row, for example, all got there via Texas state courts. The bill is not "symbolic," nor does it only apply to minor cases. It's an expression of federalism - the laboratory of the states - and it would be virtually a snub to his beloved Tenth Amendment for Gov. Perry to veto it.