State Senator Dan Patrick Files Anti-Groping Bill That Would Send Overly Friendly TSA Agents to Jail

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Dan Patrick, the Republican state senator from Houston, has been getting a lot of ink for his controversial plans for public education (read:vouchers).

SB 20, which he filed today, should be a bit less controversial. The measure would make it a criminal offense for Transportation Security Administration agents to grope -- or even accidentally touch the breast or buttocks of -- persons passing through airport security.

The bill doesn't specifically mention the TSA, referring generally to any "public servant" charged with "granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation," but let's be honest; he's talking about the TSA. Patrick goes so far as to define "public servant" as anyone working for the U.S. government or government contractor.

Pat-downs will still be allowed, but only if the TSA agent describes in detail where and how he's going to search and the passenger says OK. Again, touching the breast, buttocks, anus or sexual organs, either intentionally or "recklessly" is a no-no.

Agents who cop a feel anyway, or who can be credibly accused of doing so, would be guilty of a class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and $4,000 fine.

It's late on a Friday before a holiday, so it's no surprise that the numbers to both Patrick's Austin and Houston offices went to voice mail. So for now, we'll have to guess at his motives for filing the bill. Is it personal experience? That of a constituent? A desire to hop aboard the ever-popular anti-TSA bandwagon?

One wonders if this, like vouchers, is "the civil rights issue of our time."

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