Texas Lawmakers Pass Weakened Airport Groping Bill

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas lawmakers have given their initial backing to watered-down legislation that would criminalize intentional, inappropriate touching during security pat-downs.

The state Senate and House gave their preliminary backing to separate bills on Monday and have until Wednesday to agree on a final version to send to Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

The legislation would still make it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail for security personnel to touch a person's sexual organs during pat-downs. But it would makes exceptions in cases where officers felt they acted with "reasonable suspicion" the search was necessary.

Conservative activists who helped force the issue onto the legislative agenda criticized the watered-down bills as toothless.

Public servants are already barred from subjecting someone to a search he or she "knows is unlawful."