Texas lawmakers look to limit TSA scans, pat-downs at airports

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramMarch 8, 2011 

A bipartisan group of more than 20 state lawmakers have signed on in support of measures to ban the TSA from using controversial screening procedures in Texas airports.

State Reps. David Simpson, R-Longview, and Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, have gotten about 20 fellow legislators to co-author bills the pair filed last week banning the use of full-body scanners and invasive pat-down searches on fliers.

The supporters include lawmakers on opposite ends of the political spectrum, including Fort Worth Democrat Lon Burnam, one of the most liberal members of the Legislature, and Tyler Republican Leo Berman, a staunch social conservative.

"You've got civil libertarians. You've got conservative Christians," Simpson said. "One fellow legislator told me, 'If this doesn't fly out of committee, I don't know what will.'"

One of the bills would ban "body imaging scanning equipment" from being installed or operated in any airport in Texas.

The other bill would add any TSA-style pat-down used "to grant access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation" to the description of "sexual assault" in the state's penal code.

Controversy erupted late last year when the TSA rolled out the full-body scanners at airports around the country. Those who refuse full-body scans are subject to a pat-down search that can include the crotch and chest.

Currently, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport has 15 advanced imaging machines in operation at checkpoints at all five of its terminals. Dallas Love Field does not have any scanners but the TSA expects to begin installing them there this year.

The TSA said it does not comment on pending legislation.

However, there is some question about whether the Legislature can regulate federal activities in Texas airports, particularly activities of the TSA.

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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