Rep. Sharon Cissna, D-Anchorage, is lead sponsor of at least four bills that take aim at the TSA. One of those, HB270, would require signs warning of physical searches and electronic devices that use radiation outside TSA checkpoints in airports. It was heard during a brief hearing before the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday, and held for further consideration.
Last year after a full-body scan at a Seattle airport, Cissna was singled out for a pat-down, her second, she said, within three months. Cissna is a breast-cancer survivor who has had a mastectomy. She refused the pat-down — seeing it as invasive — and left the airport to return to Juneau, a city accessible only by air or water, by means including a rental car, small plane, taxi and ferry.
“Those aren’t pat-downs,” Cissna said of TSA procedures. “It was a feel-up. I did not experience a pat-down”
Her experience sparked a crusade for the soft-spoken lawmaker, a longtime victims’ advocate.
One of Cissna’s other bills other would criminalize anyone who conducts a physically invasive pat-down, which she considers unconstitutional; it is scheduled for a second hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today. Another bill calls for a study of psychological and physical effects of airport screening. She also wants some of the state’s airports to opt out of TSA requirements.
Michael McCarthy, a spokesman for the TSA, said the agency does not comment on pending legislation. But he did defend the techniques that caused concern to Cissna — pat-downs and screening devices — as “two of the most effective ways” to detect terrorists carrying concealed explosives. He also said health concerns about radiation have proved illegitimate.