The Legislative Cocktail Hour

Texas to Feds: Come and take it (our digital data!)

Texas to Feds: Come and take it (our digital data!)

Cell phone privacy
Thanks to the NSA, cell phone and email privacy is the talk of the nation.

No doubt that if you’ve turned on a computer or flipped through a newspaper this week, you’ve seen something about the privacy protections of Americans. With last week’s revelations that the NSA had obtained the phone records of Verizon customers, the issue of privacy have been just about everywhere.

It comes as no surprise that lack of privacy and government transparency doesn’t sit very well with us Texans. But what is kind of surprising is that a 29-year-old freshman representative may have just set the national standard for privacy.

Rep. Jonathan Strickland began the session vowing to have the most conservative voting record in the House, a promise he’s pretty much kept considering he has voted “no” on spending, well, pretty much anything. But Strickland also managed to tack on a key amendment that would force law enforcement officials to get a warrant for old emails (older than six months) — from an electronic service provider, giving those the same privacy protections as new emails (which already require a warrant).

The bill passed both chambers with accolades coming from both side of the aisle, and is on its way to the Governor.

Abortion finally makes an appearance during the Special Session

Well, it just wouldn’t be a Texas Legislature Special Session without an abortion bill. Governor Rick Perry added it to the agenda and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on Thursday on a whole bunch of abortion bills.

A breakdown of the proposals:

  • No more abortions after 20 weeks (Roe v. Wade protects abortions up to 24 weeks)
  • Abortion providers must have admitting privileges for at least one hospital within 30 miles (tough for rural areas)
  • Tighter restrictions around abortion drug RU-486
  • Abortion clinics must be up to surgical clinic standards

Perry: That liberal Grinch won’t steal our Christmas

It is now legal to say, “Merry Christmas!” in Texas public schools - not that it wasn't already, mind you, but our small-government friends in the Capitol decided to pass a law just in case someone felt the need to sue over it. No word if “Feliz Navidad” is protected. My guess would be no.


Ted Cruz came out as “Obamaphobic” this week, ending months of speculation about Cruz’s ability to add the word “phobic” to another word in a subversive way.

In other Cruz news, Ted tweeted pictures of himself in super fun, absolutely crazy Texas flag socks he was rocking under his suit. He’s so wild! (And hey, he probably wasn't trying to copycat Bush Senior's birthday Superman socks publicity AT ALL...)

In “Oh wow, Chris Matthews didn’t just say that, did he?” news, Chris Matthews may or may not have compared Ted Cruz to a Nazi sympathizer. Ted’s not a Nazi sympathizer. He’s just Canadian. Hope he has a birth certificate!

A few more things…

Lawmakers are still dealing with redistricting.

Paul Burka thinks Perry may run for Governor again.

After going after California businesses this Spring, Perry is now clamoring for New Yorkers. (Please bring bagels!)

And, like kids on Christmas morning (legal to say!), all the politics nerds geeked out about 48 hours ago with the release of Texas Monthly’s Best and Worst Legislators list. Mainly because getting on the Best list is something the electeds shamelessly campaign for during every legislative session. Because, you know. That's what's really important.