Texas Takes On The TSA: Anti-Groping Bill May Be Revived
Although Texas officials initially backed off an “anti-groping bill” that would make TSA pat-down procedures illegal, the bill may be back on the agenda according to a statement made today by Texas State Representative David Simpson.
Simpson has made the TSA the main target of his freshman legislative agenda. The Tea Party Republican from Longview sponsored the Texas State Assembly House Bill 1937, which would make it a misdemeanor for the TSA to pat down travelers who did not present a probable cause for suspicion.
Per the bill, TSA agents would be in violation of the Fourth Amendment that prevents unlawful search. Those convicted would be subject to a $4,000 fine and a one-year jail sentence.
Nicknamed the “anti-groping bill,” it almost unanimously passed the Texas House on May 13, but the victory was short-lived. On May 25, the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to the Texas Senate threatening to have the federal government shut down Texas airports if the bill passed. The bill was subsequently withdrawn.
In recent statements to the press, Simpson claimed the TSA, “can’t go to third base without giving us a reason.” He further argued, “our wives, children, and grandmothers will be rudely violated by federal employees.”
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Simpson’s statements may have given his bill renewed traction. According to his Facebook page, Lieutenant Governor of Texas David Dewhurst has written a letter to Governor Rick Perry asking that the bill be considered during the Senate’s special session.
Governor Perry will need to put the bill on the agenda in order for it to move forward. Simpson is urging his constituents to call and write the governor to support this legislation.
Texas has historically had a contentious relationship with the TSA. Lynsie Murley, a 24-year-old Amarillo woman recently received a settlement of $2,350 after suing the TSA for emotional distress when a 2008 pat down exposed her breast in a Corpus Christi airport.
Simpson’s bill is now prompting copy cats. Republican Utah State Representative Carl Wimmer has filed a similar measure for review in his state’s legislation. Wimmer’s bill will be reviewed in the next Utah legislative session in 2012.
By Lily J. Kosner for PeterGreenberg.com.
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