Texas governor supports TSA â€˜anti-groping bill’
SAN ANTONIO—The fight against enhanced passenger-screening measures at airports gained new support in Texas. On June 20, Texas Gov. Rick Perry added to state lawmakers' special session agenda a measure that would criminalize "enhanced pat-downs" by Transportation Security Administration agents at airports in Texas, reported MSNBC.
The bill passed the Texas House, but was then pulled from the Senate floor without a vote after U.S. Attorney John Murphy circulated a letter to senators warning that TSA has the authority to prevent airplanes from taking off from Texas airports if the agency cannot certify that they are safe.
The bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor—punishable by up to a year in prison or a $4,000 fine—for a TSA agent to "touch the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person, even through that person's clothing" for the purpose of "granting access to a building or a form of transportation," according to the news outlet.
The TSA defended its pat down procedures in a response to the governor’s bill. "Americans rely on TSA to put in place effective procedures to resolve security threats, and screen passengers who decline to be screened by technology. Aviation security agencies worldwide have relied on pat downs since long before TSA was created, and we have adjusted our pat-down procedures based on what we have learned from intelligence and the tactics used by our adversaries," according to a statement published in The Statesman.
During special sessions, the Legislature may only consider items that the governor puts on the agenda. It is unknown when a vote will take place.