Legislation is in the pipeline to get tough with anyone who disregards security protocols at New Jersey airports.

The Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee has given the green light to a measure that would make it a 4th degree crime –punishable by 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine -  to enter restricted airport property in violation of federal security requirements.

The bill sets forth two restricted areas on public airports – the first area, a “sterile area,” is defined as any portion of an airport that provides passengers access to boarding aircraft and to which the access generally is controlled by the Transportation Security Administration, an aircraft operator or an air carrier, through the screening of persons and property.

The second area, an “operational area,” is defined as any portion of a public airport, from which access by the public is prohibited by fences or appropriate signs.

The measure was prompted by an incident at Newark Liberty Airport in 2010 involving Haisong Jiang, 28, a Rutgers University graduate student who lives in Piscataway.

Jiang was arrested after authorities identified him as the man who slipped under a security rope after a guard briefly left his post. Jiang entered an area where passengers already had been screened – so he could give his girlfriend another goodbye kiss. When someone noticed what happened, the terminal was shut down for six hours, causing significant delays for more than a million passengers at airports around the nation.

Mr. Jiang was ultimately sentenced to 100 hours of community service and was given a $658 fine.