A wiretapping bill failed to pass the Senate this week with a tie vote of 13 to 13.

Senate Bill 26, sponsored by Tom Butler (R – Madison), was presented to the Senate on Thursday, reaching a tie vote, causing the bill to fail with no debate taking place on the Senate floor.

Currently, the only legal method of wiretapping in the state comes through federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and DEA. The new legislation sought to provide state law enforcement with the capabilities to intercept communications via phone, internet, and related wire communications. The bill sought to allow an officer or agent of the law to obtain authorization for a wiretap by submitting a request to the Attorney General (AG). The AG would then review the evidence and, upon determining probable cause, would submit the request to a judge in the district of the alleged crime. The district judge would then determine the veracity of the evidence and conclude if the requesting agency has probable cause to request the wiretap.

An identical bill, HB17 sponsored by Rep. Rex Reynolds (R-Huntsville), was approved in the House of Representatives on Thursday with an 84-7 vote. 

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