‘Criminal threatening’ bill gives politicians, gov workers more protection than general public

Flickr/NOBamaNoMas

No, the bill S.265 as passed by the Senate does not explicitly allow incumbent politicians to toss challengers into jail. But it does treat criminal threats against them — and almost all other government workers — as twice as bad in terms of sentencing.

By Guy Page

S.265, the ‘criminal threatening’ bill, passed the Vermont Senate 28-2 on Feb. 17 and is now in the House Judiciary Committee.

In his recent cartoon, Vermonter Dan Jeffries does what political cartoonists do: use hyperbole for humor and to make a point. No, the bill as passed by the Senate does not explicitly allow incumbent politicians to toss challengers into jail.

But it does treat criminal threats against them — and almost all other government workers — as twice as bad in terms of sentencing.

S.265 doubles the existing one-year maximum prison sentence for criminal threatening to two years when committed against a government person or on government property. The first paragraph of S265 is existing law (with a tweak or two) covering everyone, with no distinction between government and general public:

“A person shall not by words or conduct knowingly: (1) threaten another person or a group of particular persons; and (2) as a result of the threat, place the other person in reasonable apprehension of death or serious bodily injury to the other person, a person in the group of particular persons, or any other person. A person who violates this section shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.”

Then the added penalty for threatening government officials kicks in:

“A person who violates subsection (a) of this section by making a threat that places any person in reasonable apprehension that death or serious bodily injury will occur at a public or private school; post-secondary education institution; place of worship; polling place during election activities; the Vermont State House; or any federal, State, or municipal building shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $2,000, or both.”

Supporters of the bill say the alleged rise in threats from the general public against public officials (Jan. 6 in Washington D.C., angry school board meetings, an angry caller to the Vermont Secretary of State) make the legislation necessary. Critics say it turns public servants into a privileged, protected class of elites, and that existing law already offers protection against criminal threatening.

In the Senate, only Sens. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) and Russ Ingalls (R-Essex/Orleans) voted no. S.265 is not on the House Judiciary agenda this week. Party and contact information about the members of House Judiciary are available on the Vermont Legislature website, and appear below:

Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.

Image courtesy of Flickr/NOBamaNoMas
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14 thoughts on “‘Criminal threatening’ bill gives politicians, gov workers more protection than general public

  1. The truckers convoy in DC represents what millions of Americans and Vermonters. They stated their goals in this manner but not their actual words speaking to congress and the resident in chief.
    You work for us.
    We actually make the country run.
    We are here for our children and future generations.
    We want our freedom back.
    We want to make our own decisions for our health, our families and our lives.
    We want to be left alone.
    These are simple requests that Americans want and they apply here as well. While congress members and politicians enrich themselves, take care of their donor class, bankrupt the country, manipulate the elections in individual states, make wars and try to disarm Americans and more, we have had enough. It is past time to return this country to the people who are the ruling class. The truckers message should resonate throughout the country and we should see it through to the end until every politician gets it into their head that we won’t take it any more. This is a peaceful movement as freedom around the globe has embolden people of the world. This will be solved peacefully or through chaos and revolt so there is a choice at hand. Lets get it done now while cooler heads prevail.

  2. Special “laws” for “Special” people.

    Sounds like a defunct political/worldview that lost major ground in 1989.

  3. This is nothing more than the attempt of the weak, hand wringing, bed wetting progressive liberals in the Vermont legislature trying to criminalize the truthful, albeit harsh, verbal opposition to their ignorance and incompetence.

  4. Just like the communist have a upper protected class we now have one…
    The majority in this state like that and like all subordinate serfs keep voting
    for more.. yes Alice Vermont is a communist state no matter what they say..
    progressive, socialist communist all the same in a different wrapper…

    • There is a real difference between making a threat to harm someone versus making an oppositional statement. Would this bill prohibit freedom of speech? It sounds like it! Kudos to those Senators who voted NO ! We have freedom of speech in this nation and elected senators an representatives are supposed to represent us. Therefore , they need to listen to what we have to say.

    • There is a real difference between making a threat to harm someone versus making an oppositional statement.
      Kudos to those Senators who voted NO ! We have freedom of speech in this nation and elected senators and representatives are supposed to represent us. Therefore , they need to listen to what we have to say.

  5. Hey, like Harry Truman stated,” if you can stand the heat, get out of the kitchen “,
    maybe these spineless elected officials should step down, as level headed voters
    are getting sick of their socialist agendas……………

    Just because Vermont has a Socialist ” carpetbagger” Senator, it’s nothing real Vermonters
    want, and we will voice our objections to the nonsense from this list of fools, cowards that
    can’t face their constituents, now that’s pretty pathetic, definitely not leadership material !!

    Wake up people, vote these fools out if you want to save the state.

  6. This just exhibits how arrogant our legislators are in thinking that somehow they are entitled to violate our constitutional rights for their own “protection”. If this makes it to the governor’s desk, I would certainly hope he will see it as a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution he took an oath to defend and immediately veto it.

  7. What happened to my “freedom of speech”. What makes them more important than any of us?? They just pass items that line their pockets, PROVE me wrong……..maybe the general public is sick of your thinking that you are better class of people…..this country runs on us, America runs on us, we are the backbone….without us sooner or later you will be falling into your own pit of laws……

  8. Just another step towards totalitarianism. Just remember… watch what you say to all politicians and state employees. They now have the power of the gov. to press charges if you are getting out of line.

    • And no less threatened than every single Vermonter who has lived through the last two years here, watching what we finally were able to build Vermont into: a thriving entrepreneurial specialty state, that people used to love to come and relax within.
      The stress levels have been showing for awhile.
      This is NOT a healthy state. And we are still held hostage.
      Its pretty coercive and tryannical if you ask me.
      Is reminding politicians and legislators what history has done to tyrants in this country, too much?
      The phrase ‘willful ignorance’ and ‘let them eat cake’ seems appropriate.
      The Emperor has no clothes.

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