AUSTIN — A bill which aims to prohibit “enhanced pat-downs” in Texas airports is being supported by an ever-growing coalition, including Texans for Accountable Government (TAG), an Austin-based activist group.
The bill, HB 1937 authored by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), is supported by a broad, trans-partisan coalition of nearly 40 Republican and Democratic Legislators, as well as a number of other groups concerned with individual liberty and privacy rights including TAG the Travis County Republican Party, the Travis County Libertarian Party, the Central Texas Republican Liberty Caucus. Simpson also has the backing of U.S. Congressman John Carter of Texas.
“Rep. Simpson’s bill is a prime example of the Texas Legislature fulfilling its duty to protect its constituents and both the Texas and U.S. Constitutions,” said Heather Fazio of TAG. “When our own federal government is overseeing such an intrusion of personal rights, it becomes the responsibility of the states to keep that power in check — which is exactly what this bill does.”
The federal Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) began rolling out new screening procedures — involving whole-body scanning technology and the infamous “advanced pat-down” — last fall. The extreme measures met both public ridicule and scorn both nationally and internationally.” Several local governments, including the City of Austin’s Airport Advisory Board, have passed resolutions condemning the breech of personal privacy. Local efforts were supported by neaq The City of Austin, however, came short of opposing the scanners out, for fear of losing potential federal grant funding.
“I question if the Austin City Council has a clear understanding of their duty to protect the rights of the people they represent,” said Kris Bailey of TAG. “They appear a little too willing to violate our rights with the allowance of the ‘enhanced pat-downs’ at ABIA [Austin Bergstrom International Airport]. Thankfully, we have a trailblazer like Rep. Simpson in our state House that is willing to defend the rights of travelers to be secure in their persons from unreasonable searches when traveling in Texas.”
Texas would not be alone in its opposition. If Simpson’s bill is passed, Texas could join Hawaii, New Jersey and New Hampshire in banning the new TSA practices.
U.S. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas has also introduced the “American Traveler Dignity Act” which also aims to rein in TSA procedures nationwide.
HB 1937 is scheduled for hearing this Tuesday, March 22nd upon adjournment of the house floor. The hearing will be held at the Texas Capitol complex, John H. Reagan Building, Room 120. ###
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