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Law enforcement limited on how and where they can serve warrants for Texas House Democrats

Law enforcement officers armed with warrants went to absent Texas House members' homes looking for them, according to a spokesman for the speaker.

AUSTIN, Texas — Friday marked Day 7 of the Second Special Session in Austin and without a quorum, there's still no action in the House of Representatives. 

At last check, there were 95 members who clocked in on the House floor, mostly Republicans. But without the 100 members needed for quorum, the house was forced to adjourn for the day.

The House Sergeant at Arms and staff, along with law enforcement, went to absent House members' homes to look for them, according to a spokesman for the House Speaker.

They’ve issued civil arrest warrants and have tapped law enforcement to enforce those warrants.

But the question remains – how far can law enforcement go when it comes to serving those warrants?

KHOU Legal Analyst Carmen Roe says since it’s a civil arrest warrant, that limits the power of officers trying to serve them. 

   

“If an individual who has a civil arrest warrant is approached out on the street, they can be taken into the custody of that law enforcement officer and then taken to that designated location," Roe said. "However, if they arrived at the person's home, and they chose not to answer the door, there would be nothing that that law enforcement officer can do to make them answer the door. It would have to be consensual.”

She says it's very different from a criminal arrest warrant. 

“What they can’t do is enter a private residence without consent. So they wouldn’t be able to kick in the door or do things that otherwise could be done under a criminal warrant which would be different," Roe said. 

In the meantime, Republicans say they don’t want anyone to get arrested. They just want Democrats to show up. 

“That’s not the policies that we are looking for. What we’re looking for is for them to fulfill their constitutional duties that they were elected to do," District 127 State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood) said. 

The Texas Senate has already passed all the bills on their agenda. They, too, are now just waiting on the House to have a quorum. 

Because there is a 'Call on the House,' each member who does show up has to get a permission slip signed by the speaker in order to leave the chambers for the day.

The House will meet again Saturday at 10 a.m. 

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