Thursday, April 28, 2005

Fourth Amendment Victory in Senate!

This morning Senate Bills 1195 and 1125 both by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) passed out of the Local and Uncontested Calendar in the Senate. Local and Uncontested is for the bills that don’t require much debate because they don't have opposition. That’s not at all how one would have characterized these bills before this session. Today's passage is an extraordinary achievement the credit for which belongs to Sen. Hinojosa and the Texas ACLU. For comprehensive coverage on the fight to pass this legislation and why it is so desperately needed see the blog by the ACLU's Scott Henson Grits for Breakfast.
SB 1125 takes all drug task forces that don't receive federal money and puts them under the control of the Department of Public Safety. It has the backing of the head of the DPS and the governor. Even more significantly, it takes $.25 cents of every dollar seized by these task forces and puts it toward drug treatment in the county where the asset forfeiture occurred.
SB 1195 forces police officers to get signed permission from a motorist before they can search a motor vehicle unless the officer has probably cause or another legal basis to search the car.
Now, if these bills die this session, the blame will be on the Texas House.