John Phillips: Steer CLEAR of Josh Newman’s latest bad idea

Here’s some more bad news for air travelers.  And for once it has nothing to do with Boeing.

Of all of the problems currently facing the state of California, Democrat state Senator Josh Newman of Fullerton, thinks people moving through TSA Airport security checkpoints too quickly at California airports tops the list.


If passed, his original bill would mandate that private companies like CLEAR either establish and pay for their own dedicated TSA-staffed security lanes or face a ban from all nine California airports where it’s currently offered.

Eventually the bill was amended to allow CLEAR to continue operating, but restrict the company from expanding to new airports until they get a dedicated lane.

If you’re not familiar with it,  CLEAR uses your biometrics — either your eyes or fingerprint — to verify your identity, replacing the need for a TSA officer* to manually check your passport or photo ID.

*Put a pin in that one, we will come back to it later on.

Once your identity has been verified, you’ll be able to breeze through the security line. To qualify you must be at least 18 years-old and either a US citizen or legal permanent resident. In addition, you have to have one of the following forms of identification: US driver’s license, US passport, US passport card, US-issued permanent resident card, a state-issued ID, or a US military ID.

CLEAR is a good deal, too. It’s $189 a year, plus an additional $60 per family member.  In other words, about what you’d pay for lunch at the airport…

Newman says allowing this to continue is not – wait for it – equitable!

“Sorry, Sir, you can’t use CLEAR because: George Floyd.”  (Side note: I guess we’ve officially finally moved on from blaming everything on COVID.)

But, I digress.

Newman told KTVU-TV, “This service, as part of the larger system, would enhance the efficiency of airports and also improve security. And in fact, neither of those things is actually the case. What your membership does is it gives you the right to to cut the line.”

Newman went on to say, “Do we want all of us taxpayers who paid for a public asset, like TSA, to have unequal access?”

Great.  So I guess “equity” means all of us have to miss our flights.

Who supports this madness?  Why, the unions representing flight attendants and TSA agents, of course!  This, while many of the big airlines, the California Airports Council, and virtually everyone else are against it.

That’s rich.

Using Newman’s logic, it’s immoral to charge users a premium for special services on public facilities that we all pay for.

But, that’s life.

Some travelers who use a service like CLEAR will also be paying extra to sit in Business or First Class.  Should that also be abolished?

And if you’re flying Spirit Air, everything you do before, during or after your flight except using the lavatory is also an upcharge.  Should that also be abolished?

I don’t mean Spirit Air –  of course that should be abolished – I mean their upcharges.

You know who else gets in on the action?  THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA! Think about it. The state makes money on toll roads and FasTrak lanes – ya know, the ones people pay extra for, in order to actually move in traffic – which are part of…you guessed it: public freeways and bridges!

In fact, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, from 2022-2023 the state of California brought in $833,282,112 from toll-paid vehicle crossings and total toll revenues.

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I guess premium services for public facilities is a-ok, so long as the money is going into Newman’s pocket – or I guess I should say – into the pockets of his union benefactors.

Let’s be honest, Newman’s scheme is nothing more than a naked cash grab from frequent fliers to hire more TSA agents and produce more union jobs that will in the end produce more – that’s right – union dues!

Forcing airports to hire more union TSA agents is no different than teacher’s unions fighting for smaller class sizes.  It doesn’t improve education, but it does create more jobs.

So much for being consumer friendly.

I would also note that Newman represents Fullerton in the state legislature, which is 35 miles from LAX, or between 45 minutes and three hours away.  Let’s hope Newman’s constituents remember his wicked antics the next time they miss their flight – and then take it out on him at the ballot box.

John Phillips can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. on “The John Phillips Show” on KABC/AM 790.

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