Arizona House Kills Bill That Would Punish Protesters By Seizing Their Assets

from the slightly-more-temperate-heads-prevail dept

The nice thing about truly stupid ideas is they generally have very short lifespans. Last week, the Arizona Senate did itself a huge disservice by passing a bill targeting a nonexistent problem (“paid protesters”) with fines, jail time, and seized assets if any act of destruction occurs during a protest. It wasn’t limited to just the person committing the act. Anyone else participating in the same protest could be rung up on the same charges, as well as any nonparticipants who may have been involved in the planning process.

In support of this idiocy, idiotic statements were made, including the unforgettable assertion that a new terrible law was needed because existing rioting laws were constantly being undercut by a functioning bail system.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, said the new criminal laws are necessary.

“I have been heartsick with what’s been going on in our country, what young people are being encouraged to do,’’ she said.

She agreed with Quezada that there already are laws that cover overt acts. But Allen said they don’t work.

“If they get thrown in jail, somebody pays to get them out,’’ she said. “There has to be something to deter them from that.’’

Once again, I’m at a loss for words.

Unfortunately for R-Snowflake, the state’s existing laws will have to do. Antonia Nooni Farzan of the Phoenix New Times reports the bill is dead, killed by an apparently less-stupid House. (h/t Caitlin Burns)

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard has confirmed that he does not plan to consider the bill, which means that it won’t move forward in the legislature.

“I haven’t studied the issue or the bill itself, but the simple reality is that it created a lot of consternation about what the bill was trying to do,” Mesnard tells New Times. “People believed it was going to infringe on really fundamental rights. The best way to deal with that was to put it to bed.”

Good call, Rep. Mesnard. Indeed, it did look an awful lot like an unconstitutional bill. In fact, the bill’s underlying conceit makes one suspect its author accidentally sent a page of his dream diary to a staffer to type up. The more surprising aspect is that a presumably-sober Senate moved it forward.

If he’d left it there, Mesnard would have been fine. But he didn’t. After saying the bill had “created a lot of consternation,” Mesnard goes on to say the “lot of consternation” had nothing to do with his Kevorkianing of the brain-dead bill.

When the bill passed the Senate last week, it sparked a national outcry, with many questioning whether or not it was even constitutional.

But Mesnard says that wasn’t what made him decide to kill the bill.

“I was less concerned about the national story,” he says. “My decision was based on what I think is best for Arizona and the concerns that were being expressed by Arizonans.”

Well, good for the locals either way. If it were just local concerns, it’s doubtful the bill would have died less than a week after it was introduced.

Then there’s this:

“I’m certain the sponsor wasn’t trying to infringe on anyone’s First Amendment rights,” he adds. “I want to stand up for him a little bit – he’s being criticized, and I don’t know if that’s entirely fair.”

Oh no no no no no no no… every bit of criticism the bill’s sponsor — Senator Sonny Borrelli — gets, he’s earned. And if we’re handing “Nice One, Dumbass” awards, honorable mentions need to go to both local police unions (Arizona Police Association [WARNING: WEB 0.25 EXPERIENCE AHEAD], Phoenix Law Enforcement Association) for their endorsement of Borrelli’s Folly.

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Comments on “Arizona House Kills Bill That Would Punish Protesters By Seizing Their Assets”

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38 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

“I’m certain the sponsor wasn’t trying to infringe on anyone’s First Amendment rights,”

Being unaware that your dumbass proposal would infringe on 1st (and 5th and 14th) Amendment rights is worse than intentionally trying to do so. If it’s intentional, you know you’re a dick and won’t be surprised when you’re opposed. If it’s accidental, you’ll probably propose other ideas that run afoul of these rights later.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

there is one, it’s called “The People”. If we don’t see what we like we vote for something else.

Sorry but the two party system was the cure to that and the elected know this for that is the purpose of the party system, to usurp the will of the people and make them powerless.

Sadly, people are too stupid and weak to overcome it.

Every Nation gets the Government it deserves.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Why all the Soros hate? He’s some kind of scapegoat figure, isn’t he? Dems are teh ebil and look, here comes their agent Soros. Destroy him!!!!!

Sheesh!

I note with amusement that his vote-rigging with his kajillions of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to assorted PACs and causes is out-spent by Koch brothers vote-rigging to their PACS and causes. So… what’s the problem: that the Dems have someone spending for their campaigns? I don’t care. I care that people are being demonised out of hand for the sake of it instead of being criticised for what they actually do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It depends on where you are. The police did nothing during the riots at Berkley, being ordered to stand down by the Mayor. Does anyone in America have a problem with protests? I don’t think many do. When protesters block traffic, scream at people walking by or conduct violent acts, most do have a problem with that. Some would say that blocking traffic isn’t a 1st Amendment issue. We already have laws (although not enforced.) You can’t attack someone, you can’t block traffic, you can’t riot. You don’t need more laws (like hate crime laws.) Just enforce the laws we already have (immigration laws would be a good start.)

timmaguire42 (profile) says:

I don’t see why you make a big deal about how he said nice things about Sonny as he killed Sonny’s bill. He may need to maintain a working relationship with Sonny. The important thing is he killed Sonny’s bill. (This is the point at which I might say “chess, not checkers” but I’m not sure you’re even playing checkers over here.)

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Nah, it’s dumber than that. I heard Mesnard on the radio this morning saying that the bill was just misunderstood, and that there are a lot of legitimate concerns about paid protesters intentionally causing riots. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come back in some more carefully-worded version in the future.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mesnard:

“I’m certain the sponsor wasn’t trying to infringe on anyone’s First Amendment rights,” he adds. “I want to stand up for him a little bit – he’s being criticized, and I don’t know if that’s entirely fair.”

No, he doesn’t know because as he earlier said:

“I haven’t studied the issue or the bill itself,

If he hasn’t studied the bill or issue, why is he making character statements, with certainty, he has no idea about?

Oh, never mind, that’s what politicians do.

Anon says:

Riots, good or bad...

Whether riots are good or bad is not the issue. Basically seizing any assets off someone for something that may or may not be their fault, is a “cruel and unusual punishment”. At least existing asset forfeiture has the “excuse” that it appears (?!) to be the proceeds of crime. The legitimate possessions of random citizens found in certain situations afford no such justification for their seizure – it is essentially an unconscionably large fine, and if done (or frozen for no good reason) before conviction, an even worse violation of the justice system.

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