CONCORD, N.H. (Jan. 5, 2012) – The New Hampshire House passed the TSA Accountability and Transparency bill Thursday, the first step toward reigning in overreaching TSA searches in the “Live Free or Die” State.
HB628 passed 188-136 along party lines. It will now move on to the Senate for consideration.
The bill would require state and local law enforcement officials to document complaints from citizens who feel TSA searches cross the line and then place the report in a public data base. It would also allow citizens to videotape encounters with the TSA and require police officers to take the citizens’ side against any TSA officer trying to stop them. The legislation includes TSA searches conducted at bus stations or along the state’s roadways.
“I would like to thank the members of the House who supported this bill for understanding the need to protect passengers and transportation vehicles while also respecting basic civil rights and decency,” Carolyn McKinney, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire said. “With the database created by this bill, the State of New Hampshire will be shining the light of public scrutiny on TSA officials, which will hopefully lead to their more respectful behavior toward citizens in New Hampshire—perhaps even across the country.”
Last year, the New Hampshire House considered a stronger version of the bill, which would have made “the touching or viewing with a technological device of a person’s breasts or genitals by a government security agent without probable cause a sexual assault.” But the legislation stalled in committee. Sponsors amended the bill to its current form, garnering enough support for passage.
McKinney said getting the legislation signed into law will provide New Hampshire citizens a place to turn, forcing the state to interpose.
“HB 628 would put TSA agents on notice that New Hampshire will be watching what they do, and it will also hold state and local law enforcement officers accountable to their duty to protect the rights of citizens,” she said. “This is a bill that will give citizens a place to turn within the state when they feel they’ve been abused that is not the same agency as the one allegedly doing the abusing.”
Rep. Andrew Manuse (R-Rockingham) cosponsored the bill. He said he hopes the law will lead to stronger steps against TSA overreach down the road.
“It was my hope that this bill would elicit enough complaints to convince the legislators who were hesitant to do something stronger, perhaps as strong as our original bill,” he said.
Rep. George Lambert (R-Litchfield) sponsored the bill.