By Keith Laing - 05/16/11 02:10 PM EDT
Texas state lawmakers are on the verge of approving a bill to outlaw controversial airport pat-downs.
The legislation makes it illegal for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents to perform hand searches at airport security checkpoints unless there is probable cause.
The bill was approved unanimously by the Texas House of Representatives, and a vote is pending in the state Senate. If it's approved and the governor signs it, it will be the first state law restricting TSA's security techniques.
“H.B. 1937 is a significant step forward in the protection of our constitutional and civil liberties,” Texas Rep. David Simpson (R), a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “Groping innocent citizens does little to enhance security, but it does much to reduce our freedom and dignity. I am very thankful that members of both parties have joined together to defend our citizens’ dignity against the TSA’s egregious screening methods.”
If the bill becomes law, it will likely be challenged in court.
Simpson has sponsored a separate bill to ban TSA body scanners, but that measure has not been voted on yet.
TSA has been sharply criticized in recent weeks after reports a 6-year-old girl and an 8-month-old baby were patted down. TSA defended both searches, saying they followed existing security procedures.