Northeast Texas State Rep. David Simpson has re-introduced his very controversial bill what calls for TSA agents who touch the private parts of travelers during 'enhanced pat downs' at the airport to be arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"I am hopeful that Texas will lead the way in reining in this abuse," Simpson (R-Longview) told 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.
Simpson introduced an identical bill in the 2011 session, which made him a rising star among Texas Tenth Amendment conservatives, who want to free the state from what they consider to be the oppressive federal government. His bill received worldwide attention, but it was pulled from the floor of the State Senate after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder warned that if it passed, the Justice Department would consider preventing all flights from leaving Texas airports on the grounds that the were unsafe.
Pulling the bill came back to haunt Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in his ultimately unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate, as Simpson's anti-groping bill became a symbol of conservatives who were allegedly being 'thwarted' by moderate Republicans.
Simpson says his bill draws a line in the sand against what he considers to be the overreach of the federal government.
"They are doing things to us that if I came up to you on the street and did the same thing, it would be considered an assault," he said.
Simpson says after what happened to Dewhurst, leaders in the Legislature are ready to stand aside and let his bill progress.
"Indications that I'm getting from some of the leadership is that this is going to be a priority bill, and it is going to move quickly," he said.
If passed, the measure would certainly face a court challenge. The TSA and the U.S. Justice Department say the pat downs are part of the role of the federal government in protecting flights from terrorists, and passengers know that when they buy a ticket to board an aircraft, they are subject to searches.