‘Back the Blue’ bill advances in Iowa statehouse
DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - A “Back the Blue” bill in the Iowa statehouse will advance to the Senate for a final vote.
The Iowa House passed Senate File 3-42 last night on a 63-30 vote. The bill comes in response to last summer’s protests in Iowa.
The vote also comes less than a week since people gathered at the state capitol to protest the legislation. The bill classifies rioting as a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Increases penalties for blocking streets and highways along with destroying public property, and criminalizes shining lasers at police.
It also makes drivers who hit protesters immune from civil liability under certain circumstances. Republicans say they want to deter violence.
“What we’ve seen is not peaceful protesting,” Rep. Jarad Klein said. “What we’ve seen is destruction and damage in our communities.”
The bill also strengthens ‘qualified immunity protection’ for law enforcement, making it more difficult to sue them *individually for misconduct.
Democrats say they like some portions of the bill, including adding benefits for injured officers, but they argue the bill is divisive.
“I think this bill unnecessarily pits law enforcement against groups like Black Lives Matter and other protesters,” said (D) Rep. Christina Bohannan.
If the Senate passes the bill, it will go to Governor Reynolds’ desk to be signed into law.
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