AUSTIN - Texas House Speaker Joe Straus prohibited the "anti-groping" bill brought to the legislature's special session by Governor Rick Perry from coming up for a vote as written. Straus went on to ridicule the bill as a "publicity stunt."
via Houston Chronicle:
"The legislation, which would criminalize invasive airport security pat-downs, would turn Texas “into a laughingstock,” said Straus, R-San Antonio, after abruptly adjourning the House for lack of a quorum for the second time this week."
State Rep. David Simpson, who played an instrumental role in overseeing progress on the bill, accused Speaker Straus of acting disingenuously with regard to parliamentary procedure in a press release:
"He told reporters that there was not a quorum present so the bill could not be brought up. Yet, just a few minutes before telling reporters that there were not enough members present, he had called the House to order, stating: "Quorum is present." The House Journal confirms that a quorum was in fact present."
Despite the Speaker's campaign promise not to impose his will upon legislative proceedings, it seems inarguable that Speaker Joe Straus acted alone in this instance to derail the "anti-groping" bill.
Rep. David Simpson made the following comments in response to Speaker Straus' illustration of the bill as nothing more than a "publicity stunt":
"I'm curious whether the Speaker thinks that the Bill of Rights is a publicity stunt? Did the framers of the Constitution of the State of Texas and the Constitution of the United States write in protections against unreasonable search and seizure in order to be cute?"
"Apparently, the Speaker thinks his wisdom above that of 111 coauthors and even the entirety of the House, which previously voted unanimously to pass the bill. Given the duplicity of Straus' position and the sudden break from his traditionally neutral stance on the Speaker's dias, it appears that the Speaker is staging his own publicity stunt."
Read all of Rep. David Simpson's press release here.
According to Rep. David Simpson's staff, the bill is scheduled to be reconsidered today (Monday), although some amendments may be included. Texas residents should contact Speaker Joe Straus' office immediately and request that HB 41 be brought to the floor for a vote in its original form.
Speaker of the House