FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/11/2015
Representative Wu’s Bills Modernizing the Judicial System Head to the Senate
AUSTIN - Representative Gene Wu (Houston) last week passed HB 326 and HB 331—two bills that respectively aim to modernize the search warrant process and the filing of Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) documents—in the House. They have now progressed to the Senate.
After passing the House by a vote of 143-1, HB 326 moves to the upper chamber and awaits a committee referral. This bill seeks to update Texas law to allow for a magistrate to accept a request for a search warrant that is made via phone or e-mail.
HB 326 addresses the logistical problems that arise from the current law regarding the search warrant process, which requires law enforcement officers to ask for search warrants in the physical presence of a magistrate.
“Texas' current search warrant process is many decades behind." Wu states. “I filed this bill to help law enforcement officers take advantage of modern technology, and save time in situations where every second counts.”
Federal law enforcement officers are already able to request warrants over the phone or by e-mail. HB 326 would align Texas law with federal standards.
HB 331, the second of Wu’s “modernizing” bills, passed the House by a vote of 140-0 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on State Affairs. The bill would allow for electronically filed CPS documents and records to be sealed in the same manner as physical ones. Treating both types of documents equally ensures that children in CPS cases are properly protected and that their information is kept private.
“CPS case records are supposed to be confidential and shielded from the public, but electronically filed records are sometimes being posted publically,” Wu says. “The common sense thing to do is to make sure that electronic records are secured in the same way that physical documents are sealed—and my bill does just that.”