Sunday, 15 May 2011

Anti-TSA Bill Passes Texas House

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TSA searchLate Friday afternoon, May 13, the Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed 138-0 H.B. 1937, which would ban "intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation." According to a press release issued by the office of state Rep. David Simpson, the bill's author, H.B. 1937 is "the first bill in the country that would actively restrict the TSA's [Transportation Security Administration's] intrusive screening practices to pass a legislative vote."

The landmark legislation now goes to the state Senate, where it would need to be approved (and sent to Governor Rick Perry for his signature) within the next couple of weeks to become law, since the Legislative session ends at the end of May.

As described by the  release from Simpson’s office,

H.B. 1937 would make it a criminal act for security personnel to touch a person’s private areas without probable cause as a condition of travel or as a condition of entry into a public place. This bill is not intended to contravene any federal statutes currently in place.

Simpson was quoted saying in the press release,

H.B. 1937 is a significant step forward in the protection of our constitutional and civil liberties. Groping innocent citizens does little to enhance security but it does much to reduce our freedom and dignity. I am very thankful that members of both parties have joined together to defend our citizens’ dignity against the TSA’s egregious screening methods.

Simpson also authored a bill (H.B. 1938) to prohibit the use of full body scanners, but unlike H.B. 1937 it was not sent to the House floor for a vote.

Citizen input has been critical in the passage of H.B. 1937. Simpson had taken an unpopular, but proper, stand against procedural violations of another bill earlier in the session that threatened the passage of his TSA bill, but Texans’ responses and calls to their legislators proved successful in the passage of H.B. 1937. Prior to the House vote, 94 of the Lone Star State’s representatives had signed on as joint- or co-authors, forming a near super-majority.

The Texas Legislature convenes every other year, so comments to State Senators and the Governor could be necessary to see this bill safely through the rest of the legislative process.

Texas’ efforts to stop TSA abuses have attracted national and even international attention. Eight other states — among them New Jersey, Alaska, Washington, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania — have "legislation pending to protect travelers' dignity," according to Simpson's press release.

Photo: AP Images

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