On Monday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was detained by airport security in Nashville for refusing to take a pat-down by Transportation Security Agency officials.
Maybe Idaho state Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, sympathizes with the U.S. senator because he is readying a bill that would outlaw unwanted TSA searches within the Gem State’s borders.
In an interview with IdahoReporter.com, Barbieri said the pat-downs do little to improve airline security and are more for show than anything else. "I'm just adding that federal TSA personnel cannot touch a person that does not want to be touched," Barbieri said. "And if they do, without consent, they are subject to the state battery law."
Idaho Code 18-904 says battery is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Barbieri has not talked with TSA about the bill and he isn’t even sure the state has the authority to end the pat-downs. “I don’t know the answer to that,” he said when asked if the Legislature can regulate the federal agency.
Still, he thinks airports should be confined to using metal detectors alone for security. “I think metal detectors should be sufficient,” Barbieri said. “I’m happy to scoot through the metal detector.”
The north Idaho lawmaker also opposed the x-ray machines that give screeners a full-body view of passengers. “This extra layer of the x-ray machine is an extreme concern,” Barbieri explained, adding that unknown health risks associated with them make them unsafe.
“I will not go through the machine,” Barbieri said. “I’m always patted down.”
The pat-downs, he believes, are simply for show to inconvenience travelers, persuading them to use the more convenient--and less hands-on--x-ray machines. “I’m convinced they are theater,” Barbieri said. “It is meant to keep individuals walking through the machine.”
Barbieri has not said exactly when he will pitch the bill to his fellow lawmakers.
This is not the first time a north Idaho lawmaker has sought to challenge TSA and its practices. Barbieri’s seatmate, Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, brought a bill in 2010 to outlaw the x-ray body scanners in Idaho, but the measure died when it didn’t receive a hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee.
Hart told IdahoReporter.com in June he would likely bring a bill to stop pat-downs, so it’s likely Barbieri has his seatmate’s support.