Airport Security Measures Passed. (Dateline Washington)

Article excerpt

President Bush signed into law legislation requiring new security measures at U.S. airports. The new law is a compromise between the Senate, which wanted to federalize passenger screening at airports, and the House of Representatives, which wanted to increase government oversight of airport security, but allow the airports to contract with the private sector for passenger screening.

The compromise bill requires all but five airports to have federal workers screening passengers and baggage for a minimum of three years. After that period, airports have the option of hiring workers from the private sector for the post. The five exceptions to the rule--airports to be determined over the coming year--will be permitted to experiment with other systems after only a year-long period of federalization.

The new law also requires strengthened cockpit doors, the placement of federal marshals on flights, and thorough inspections of all checked and carry-on luggage. New baggage screeners will have to be U.S. citizens, and the firing of these workers will be made easier. A new security agency within the Department of Transportation will assume jurisdiction over all transportation security issues. The airport industry has one year to comply with the new regulations. (See "How to Overcome Fear of Flying," CR, October 2001.)

One month following its expiration, the Internet tax moratorium has been reinstituted by the Senate. In extending the ban, as the House did on the eve of its sunset, the Senate has prolonged the period in which no new taxes can be placed on Internet access or services for an additional two years. The tax moratorium enables the Internet and its users to continue expanding without being heavily regulated by the government or discouraged by high taxes. Opponents of the moratorium say the ban gives an unfair advantage to Internet retailers at the expense of traditional "brick and mortar" retailers.

The Federal Aviation Administration is pushing for new rudder-control systems in approximately 2,000 Boeing 737 jets--the world's most widely used airplane. Should the FAA proposal pass, carriers will have five years to replace the mechanisms that have been blamed for two fatal crashes and other incidents with a redesigned version that includes dual hydraulic valves and other modifications to bring 737 rudder systems up to par with those of other Boeing aircraft, reports The Wall Street Journal. …