The “anti-groping” bill may not be dead just yet. Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, who authored the original bill, is renewing his quest to uphold the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of searches without probable cause. He filed legislation today that would create a misdemeanor offense for government employees who touch a person’s anus, breasts, genitals or body in an “offensive or provocative” manner before granting admittance to a public facility.
Simpson said he is grateful Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, in a letter to to Gov. Rick Perry, recommended the bill be considered during the special session. But he hasn’t seen “a whole lot of action” from Perry, who must put the bill on the call if it is to get passed during the special session.
“There’s a lot of people calling in, and it fits with the governor’s philosophy, his Fed Up! book,” Simpson said.
Although the bill was popular among lawmakers during the regular session — passing nearly unanimously out of the House — it died in the Senate after the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to the Texas Legislature saying the federal government would be forced to shut down Texas airports if the bill passed.
The Senate sponsor of the bill, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, blamed the failure of the bill on Dewhurst. Patrick said he had the support of 30 senators before he attempted to suspend Senate rules to bring the bill up for a vote, but Dewhurst “dragged it out for another several hours so” he could persuade them to withdraw support. “I was absolutely sideswiped by the lieutenant governor on this,” he said. Patrick has also filed a companion bill for the special session.
In response to Patrick's accusations, a Dewhurst spokesman said the lieutenant governor is “concerned about the invasiveness of airport security screening procedures.”