On Wednesday evening, Iowa House legislators passed a comprehensive bill that would provide enhanced legal protection for police officers and harsher penalties for riot-related offenses.
Senate File 342 was passed in a 63-30 vote, with eight Democrats voting affirmatively and two Republicans voting negatively, as noted by the Courier.
This legislation, often referred to as the “Back the Blue Bill” originated from the protests that engulfed the state during the previous summer.
As a result of this bill’s passing, rioting charges have been formally upgraded from misdemeanors to felonies. Consequently, punishment will be increased for violent behaviors, including the destruction of public property and the blocking of highways.
In addition, shining lasers at law enforcement has also become criminalized under the bill.
Per the GOP, the purpose of the bill is to prevent crime. GOP Representative Jarad Klein informed KCCI that “peaceful protesting” has not been the primary occurrence. Instead, the main occurrences have been “destruction and damage” across multiple communities.”
Moreover, Democrats admitted to liking certain elements of the bill, which include additional benefits for injured law enforcement officers. However, they also asserted that other elements of the bill remain divisive, including its apparent lack of action regarding racial justice, which inspired their criticism of Kim Reynolds, the Governor of Iowa.
Democrat Representative Christina Bohannan argues that the bill “unnecessarily” places law enforcement and BLM, as well as other protestors, at odds with one another.
Presently, the bill is headed to the Senate of Iowa. Should it pass, the legislation will arrive to the governor’s desk shortly thereafter for approval.