CONCORD, N.H. (Jan. 2, 2012) – Many state legislatures will consider ways to rein in overreaching TSA searches during their 2012 legislative sessions, with New Hampshire leading the way in early January.

Rep. Andrew Manuse (R-Rockingham) says he expects a vote on an amended version of HB 628 during the first week of January. The bill would require state and local law enforcement officials to document complaints from citizens who feel TSA searches cross the line.

“HB 628 is a strong step in the right direction,” Manuse said. “The bill would require state and local law enforcement officers to take a report from a citizen who claims to have been abused by the TSA, and then will put that record in a designated public database so that such complaints can be tracked. The person making the complaint will have his or her identity protected. The bill will also allow citizens to videotape their encounters with the TSA and require police officers to take the citizens’ side against any TSA officer trying to stop them. It is my hope with this bill that by allowing citizens to shine a light on the problems we’ve been hearing about, such transparency will have the tendency to prevent wrongdoing.”

Last year, Manuse cosponsored the original 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. The New Hampshire lawmaker says he hopes citizen complaints will raise awareness of the problem and possibly generate support for stronger TSA legislation 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,” Manuse said.

The New Hampshire legislature did pass a resolution last session, “urging the President and Congress to address the privacy, constitutional, safety, and religious freedom concerns presented by advanced imaging technology employed by the Transportation Security Agency at the nation’s airports.”

“I, however, don’t believe resolution are of any value, which is why I vigorously pursued HB 628, first in its original form, and then in a form that could pass the committee, and hopefully the House and Senate,” Manuse said.

The New Hampshire representative says the proposed bill has the support of the House speaker and he thinks it has a shot at passage.

Rep. George Lambert (R-Litchfield) sponsored the bill.

Over the past year, reporters have documented numerous cases of TSA abuse. Last summer, an invasive TSA search in Texas left former Miss USA Susie Castillo in tears. A video she recorded shortly after the incident went viral, highlighting the invasive nature of the TSA pat-downs.

“It’s a state’s duty to stop the TSA, because the TSA is never going to stop itself,” Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin said.

The TAC expects as many as 12 states to consider bills aimed at halting unconstitutional and overreaching TSA searches.

For information on TSA nullification, click here.

Mike Maharrey

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