JUNEAU, Alaska (March 25, 2012) – Alaska Rep. Sharon Cissna (D-Anchorage) knows first-hand the degradation and humiliation TSA groping can cause.
Last year, after having already endured one groping on a previous trip, the breast cancer survivor opted to drive from Seattle to Juneau rather than undergo a pat-down when a scanner flagged her surgical scars as an “irregularity.”
“For nearly fifty years I’ve fought for the rights of assault victims, population in which my wonderful Alaska sadly ranks number one, both for men and women who have been abused. The very last thing an assault victim or molested person can deal with is yet more trauma and the groping of strangers, the hands of government ‘safety’ policy. For these people, as well as myself, I refused to submit,” she wrote, chronicling her experience on her blog.
As a state lawmaker, Cissna decided she needed to do something to protect the people she represents from similar groping and peeking. On Jan. 17, she introduced HB 262 in the Alaska House. If passed, the act would make it a class A misdemeanor for any agent to require a person seeking access to a public building or transportation facility to submit to touching of a sexual nature, or screening that reveals any body part not normally visible to the public.
The bill was referred to the House Judiciary and Finance Committees.
During a hearing last month, Cissena told the Judiciary Committee that rights guaranteed in the constitutions of Alaska and the United States are violated by security measures that require unwanted physical contact or exposure of physical traits usually not visible in public.
But nearly a month later the bill remains mired in committee.
Periodically, TSA agents commit a particularly egregious and blatant act, such as last February when screeners at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport required a woman to go through the scanner three time so agents in a back room could get a “good look” at her “cute” figure. Incidents like these spark a moment of outrage. Sometimes congressional lawmakers even convene hearings on Capitol Hill to scold the TSA. But the policies never change. That will take the states stepping in to stop these gross violations of their citizens’ most basic rights. And state legislators won’t act until they hear from the people they represent.
If you live in Alaska, contact your representative and politely, but firmly, ask them to push for movement on HB262. Phone calls work best. Follow up with an email and/or a hand-written letter.
You can locate your representative’s contact information HERE.
Contact each member of the House Judiciary Committee and ask them to move HB262 forward. You can locate contact information for all committee members HERE.
To track TSA freedom to travel legislation across the U.S., click HERE.
If you don’t live in Alaska and your state has not taken steps to stop TSA groping and peeking, you can find model Travel Freedom legislation that you can propose to your state representative or senator HERE.