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Estes, King files early bills

By Messenger Staff | Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013

State Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) on Friday filed SB 173, a bill that would prohibit the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology by school districts to track or transmit information regarding public school students.

RFID uses radio waves to identify, track, and monitor any object. RFID tags transmit data unhindered by doors, walls, backpacks, purses, or clothing. Those opposed to using RFID tags to monitor school children note various concerns including violation of free speech and association, violation of religious freedom, conditioning children to be tracked and monitored, and invasion of privacy.

“I do not want our children and grandchildren to grow up in a world where this type of intrusive, big-brother surveillance is considered normal,” Estes said. “This is the same type of technology used to track cattle, so it’s disturbing to me that we are now seeing government use that same surveillance technology to track and monitor our young citizens.”

In addition to civil liberty concerns, there are also fears that relying on the technology rather than observation would create security risks. For example, a student could be counted as present on campus by virtue of an RFID tag, but be miles away before his or her disappearance were noticed.

Additionally, while RFID systems may be developed for use in a school, the RFID tags may be read covertly anywhere by anyone with the right reading device.

“Using RFID tags to track children is a perfect example of big-government run amuck,” Estes said. “It’s time for legislators to step in and protect our citizens’ privacy.”

Estes serves Senate District 30 which includes all of Archer, Clay, Cooke, Erath, Grayson, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wichita, Wise, and Young counties and parts of Collin and Denton counties.

HOUSE ADOPTS KING’S RULE CHANGE ON ‘POINTS OF ORDER’

Early in the Texas Legislative session which began this week, Rep. Phil King was successful in getting the House’s standards for sustaining a point of order changed.

In recent sessions, King and others have complained that it has become too easy to kill bills on procedural grounds, with frustration highest when lawmakers have waited until several hours into debate to introduce a point of order.

King’s proposal returns the standard for overturning a point of order back to what it was under Speaker Pete Laney – when a committee report was in substantial compliance despite the introduction of an error as long as it wasn’t misleading.

King said his purpose was to avoid taking bills down on the House floor because of a typographical error. But the change in the rule also means that it will be more difficult to use that parliamentary procedure to impede a bill.

In essence, the rule change reduces the ability of Democrats to block legislation they find distasteful, while also making it more difficult for lobbyists to scuttle bills hostile to their interests.

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