On Thursday night, the Texas House of Representatives passed the first of two bills from Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) which would criminalize TSA searches of passengers at airports without probable cause.
The key text of HB1937 reads in part:
A person who is a public servant [acting under color of his office or employment] commits an offense if the person:
(2) while acting under color of the person’s office or employment without probable cause to believe the other person committed an offense:
(A) performs a search for the purpose of granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation;
The bill passed by acclamation and will move on to the Senate for consideration.
This bill had been heavily backed and promoted by the Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas and the RLC of Central Texas. RLC-CTX members testified at multiple hearings, with board member Pierre de Rochemont taking the lead and providing expert scientific testimony on the dangers of the TSA scanners.
The issue of TSA scanners and enhanced pat downs has become a nationwide issue because of highly publicized incidents which brought the intrusiveness of TSA screening to the nation’s attention in recent weeks. In early April, a father videotaped a TSA agent in New Orleans running her hands all over his visibly upset 6-year-old. A few weeks later, former Miss USA Susie Castillo made a tearful video after agents touched her genitalia during a pat-down. She said she came away feeling violated. And just this week, a bystander snapped a photo of screeners in Kansas City patting down an infant.
HB1937 addresses the intrusiveness of TSA pat-down procedures, making it a crime to purposefully, knowingly or recklessly touch a person’s anus, sexual organ and breasts, even through clothing. A companion bill which addresses the danger of TSA backscatter radiation scanners is also being considered and should be voted on soon. Similar bills are being considered in a number of other state legislators with strong support from RLC chapters in those states.