Sen. Tomes has introduced SB 34 which seems mostly to be a way for him to express his unhappiness with the Black Lives Matter protests this summer. It provides that the State and local unites of government may not hire and must fire someone convicted of rioting. “Rioting” is already on the books and is defined as, “A person who, being a member of an unlawful assembly, recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally engages in tumultuous conduct.” “Unlawful assembly” is currently defined as, “an assembly of five (5) or more persons whose common object is to commit an unlawful act, or a lawful act by unlawful means.” And, “tumultuous conduct” is defined as “conduct that results in, or is likely to result in, serious bodily injury to a person or substantial damage to property.”
SB 34 also provides that state and local government can’t provide a “state or local benefit” to someone who has been convicted of rioting. Such benefits are defined pretty broadly to include most public spending directed to an individual. However, the prohibition does not extend to, among other things, emergency medical treatment, assistance with vaccine, and short-term noncash emergency relief.
The normal protection given to law enforcement against civil liability for enforcing or failing to enforce a law would not extend to “failure to enforce a law in connection with an unlawful assembly” if such failure rose to the level of gross negligence. So, that would give law enforcement incentive to prioritize breaking up assemblies “of five or more people whose common object is to commit an unlawful act” since people who were harmed or had property damaged as a result of the assembly could look to local government to compensate them for the damage caused by the people assembling. Property used by a person to finance or facilitate a crime committed while the person was part of an unlawful assembly could be seized under the civil forfeiture statute. Someone charged with unlawful assembly could not be released on bail by the Sheriff according to a bail schedule. Rather, the statute would require a bail determination in court for such charges.
Finally, it prohibits a unit of local government from “defunding law enforcement” unless the reduction in funds can be shown to be a function of a decline in revenue for the unit, a decline in the crime rate, or the availability of other sources of funding. There’s a rebuttable presumption that defunding has happened if the funding available to the law enforcement agency has declined by 5%. If a court determines that defunding has happened, it is to order that funding be restored in the amount provided in the last fiscal year plus an additional amount to cover inflation.
The legislation would enhance penalties for the crimes of criminal mischief, obstruction of traffic, rioting, and/or disorderly conduct if committed in connection with unlawful assembly.