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

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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Author: Tim Cushing

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