Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Written consent for searches clears House

Did I mention I hate drama?

The drama over legislation requiring police to obtain written consent to search at traffic stops wasn't whether SB 1195 had enough votes -- it was whether, as the 62nd bill on the Major State Calendar, it could be heard before the clock struck midnight and hundreds of pending Senate bills turned into legislative pumpkins. SB 1195 passed on second reading with only minutes to spare by an overwhelming margin. The late vote meant most press didn't cover it this morning, but see the
initial coverage.

(UPDATE: The bill has passed on third reading the next day; Rep Pe
ña liveblogged the debate! Here's the Dallas News' coverage of the 3rd reading debate.)

Rep. Jim Jackson, R-Carrollton, the only no vote in the House Law Enforcement Committee, spoke out against the bill. His arguments, though, amounted to little more than declarations that police officers from their district didn't want the bill, that it would "take away a tool" and let criminals run free. When the Austin PD began to require written consent last year, though, no subsequent crime spree ever occurred.

Senate author Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa
heroically worked the House floor himself in support of the bill, negotiating an amendment with opponents at the last minute to allow officers to continue to perform "Terry frisks" if they have a "reasonable fear" for the officer's safety or the public's. (In my opinion, the previous language would have still allowed Terry frisks, but now it's explicit.) Bills sponsors Harold Dutton and Suzannah Hupp did a great job working the floor, too. And Rep. Glenn Hegar, Jr., R-Katy, rebutted Jackson eloquently, explaining why he'd supported the bill in committee.

In truth, though, Tuesday night's time constraints rebutted Jackson as much as any debate opponent. The bill was laid out at 11:38 p.m., but as the clock sped past 11:50, Jackson and company were still debating the bill while dozens more behind it died for time. Fellow Republican members actually heckled Jackson with cries of "Vote! Vote!," and "off the mike." For a minute or two things got pretty rowdy, but the speaker calmed them down, the vote was cast, and several
more bills were even passed with auctioneer-style efficiency in the day's final minutes.

The police unions bitterly fought the idea, issuing a statewide action alert this week filled with misinformation. In the end, though, SB 1195 enjoyed overwhelming support. The bill must receive one more vote today on "third reading" before going back to the Senate for concurrence with the House amendments, then on to the Governor awaiting his signature.

Here are the members who voted in favor of requiring written consent to search at traffic stops. If one of them is your representative, be sure to thank them. UPDATE: The bill finally passed on "third reading" after lengthier debate. The police unions had phone banked their members statewide in a last ditch effort to kill the bill, and flipped a few members. It won strong bipartisan support anyway, though, with 83 votes in favor and 63 against, after an initial "second reading" vote of 96-41. Here are the final aye votes:
Allen, Alma(D); Allen, Ray(R); Alonzo(D); Anchia(D); Bailey(D); Branch(R); Brown, Fred(R); Burnam(D); Callegari(R); Casteel(R); Castro(D); Chavez(D); Coleman(D); Cook, Byron(R); Cook, Robby(D); Crabb(R); Davis, John(R); Davis, Yvonne(D); Deshotel(D); Dukes(D); Dunnam(D); Dutton(D); Edwards(D); Elkins(R); Escobar(D); Farrar(D); Flores(D); Frost(D); Gallego(D); Giddings(D); Gonzales(D); Gonzalez Toureilles(D); Goodman(R); Goolsby(R); Griggs(R); Grusendorf(R); Guillen(D); Haggerty(R); Hegar(R); Herrero(D); Hochberg(D); Hodge(D); Hopson(D); Hughes(R); Hupp(R); Jones, Delwin(R); Jones, Jesse(D); Keffer, Bill(R); King, Tracy(D); Kuempel(R); Laney(D); Leibowitz(D); Luna(D); Martinez(D); Martinez Fischer(D); McClendon(D); Menendez(D); Merritt(R); Miller(R); Moreno, Paul(D); Naishtat(D); Noriega(D); Oliveira(D); Olivo(D); Pena(D); Pickett(D); Puente(D); Quintanilla(D); Raymond(D); Riddle(R); Ritter(D); Rodriguez(D); Rose(D); Seaman(R); Solis(D); Strama(D); Straus(R); Swinford(R); Thompson(D); Turner(D); Uresti(D); Veasey(D); Vo(D)
Thanks to one and all. They each deserve credit for a principled vote. Now the bill heads back to the Senate, where a stronger version passed by a 29-2 margin. They will most likely concur with the House amendments, then it heads to the Governor. Prior Grits coverage of this legislation is compiled here.


Unknown said...

Scott, keep an eye on the bill on third reading today. I am getting some indication that there will be an attempt to kill the bill on third reading today. Let's hope not.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks for the heads up, Rep, and for your vote on SB 1195. The police unions are running a phone bank to get their members to call y'all, we're told. Hang tough, and tell your colleagues to do the same!