Senate committee approves bill to tighten security at Florida airports

MIA 1 of 3 airports in country that screens workers daily

MIAMI – A Senate committee passed a bill Monday to tighten security at Florida airports.

The roughly 35,000 employees at Miami International Airport face stricter security guidelines than in almost any other airport in the country.

"We have huge holes here in the U.S. of airport workers not being checked so like that Russian airliner -- they can bring that bomb in and get it on an airplane," Sen. Bill Nelson said.

Nelson's bill to tighten airport worker security is headed to the Senate floor.  He called MIA a model because of its fewer access points, daily magnetometer wanding and badging that includes biometric data.

"Contractors, vendors, concessionaires, consultants - they all go through the same procedure," MIA Director Emilio Gonzalez said.

Workers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport are not screened daily.

"I cannot discuss to you how we screen employees," FLL spokesman Greg Meyer said.  

Following a recent Local 10 News report, Broward’s sheriff met with the aviation director about worker screening protocols at FLL.  Nelson expects his bill to eventually affect change there and at every one of the 400 or so commercial airports in the country.

"It gives them a little flexibility because they are screaming bloody murder that it is costing too much, but it definitely pushes them in that direction," Nelson said.

Daily worker screening costs MIA about $5 million a year.

"The greatest threat right now for any airport is the insider threat," MIA security director Lauren Stover said. "We've known this all along. They are right there working next to the aircraft. How can we not screen them in some fashion?"

MIA is one of three airports in the country that screens employees daily. The other airports are Orlando International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

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