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Texas Bill Criminalizing Airport Pat-Downs Is Back

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A TSA agent waits for passengers to pass through a magnetometer at Los Angeles International Airport on November 22, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

A TSA agent waits for passengers to pass through a magnetometer at Los Angeles International Airport on November 22, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A key Texas House committee has discussed a contentious proposal to criminalize excessive touching by agents during airport security pat-downs.

The bill by Rep. David Simpson of Longview would make intentionally touching travelers’ private parts by security officials illegal without probable cause.

The tea party Republican introduced a 2011 proposal making it illegal for anyone conducting searches to touch travelers’ privates, even though clothing. It also would have prohibited searches considered offensive “to a reasonable person.”

That bill died after federal officials threatened to close all Texas airports for security purposes if it were approved.

The new measure clarifies that security agents must be deliberately touching inappropriately, rather than doing so incidentally.

But members of the House State Affairs Committee worried Wednesday it could still eventually lead to grounded flights.

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