OK, so it isn’t actually named after Kory, but it might as well be. Second-term state representative Jason Villalba has introduced Texas House Bill 2918 to basically take away the public’s right to film the police. The bill would criminalize filming within 25 feet of a police officer unless you were part of the “media,” and if armed, one could be no closer than 100 feet.
This is basically a reaction to the confrontational style of Kory, who has a tendency to get very close to the officers while being loud and armed with either a rifle or a black powder revolver. So Villalba decided that a new law was needed, despite the fact that there is already a perfectly valid law on the book that deals with the issue. When questioned on that, Villalba said that many times officers are too busy to tell those filming to step back or to put up yellow crime scene tape.
Uh, Jason? If they are too busy to tell someone to move back, wouldn’t they be too busy to make an additional arrest? Because the purpose of the law is to criminalize the gathering of information that can be used to exercise the right to free speech. The fact that a law is on the books doesn’t magically make people move back, nor does it encourage the police to welcome citizen photographers. On the contrary, it encourages police officers to suppress free speech.
Villalba practices high-dollar law for a big box law firm, Haynes and Boone, where he is a partner. The base salary for first year associates is reported to be $160,000 per year, a partner will make much more than that, so it is fair to say that Villalba is not your average Texan. He’s also arrogant, telling opponents of his censorship bill that he will “destroy” them on Facebook (since deleted) and to vote him “out of office” on Twiter (also since deleted).
This isn’t Villalba’s first incursion into the territory of the First Amendment. In December, he called for a state constitutional amendment that would protect anti-homosexual bigots from government action. Only after pretty much everyone objected to it, including most business leaders.
Like many of the efforts of wealthy legislators, this current bill is designed to protect the status quo, not to benefit the public. Besides that, it is blatantly unconstitutional, creating a special class of citizens who have First Amendment rights while denying it to others.