Q&A of the Day – What’s in Florida’s “anti-riot” legislation? Part 1

Q&A of the Day – What’s in Florida’s “anti-riot” legislation? Part 1

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio 

Today’s entry: Brian, What’s in the anti-riot bill? I’ve heard the typical left-right good -bad stuff but not a thorough analysis of what’s in the proposed legislation. Also, do you think it’s a good idea? Thanks for your consideration.

Bottom Line: Last Thursday, during a conversation with state Senator Shevrin Jones, he offered a prediction. HB 1, also known as the “anti-riot” bill would die in its final Senate committee. That didn’t happen. After about eight hours of debate the bill passed its final committee on a 11-9 vote. The legislation now stands before the full state senate for a final vote. The proposed legislation, which is backed by Governor DeSantis, has arguably been the most controversial proposal in this year’s state session. To your point details often aren’t discussed when it’s reported on. Now, some of the light reporting was effectual because the proposal had the potential to be amended during the committee process. Now that the process has concluded, we know exactly what will happen in Florida if HB 1 passes and becomes law. Let’s start with the summary of the bill: 

CS/HB 1: Combating Public Disorder

Combating Public Disorder; Authorizing specified elected officials to file an appeal to the Administration Commission if the governing body of a municipality makes a specified reduction to the operating budget of the municipal law enforcement agency; providing that a municipality has a duty to allow the municipal law enforcement agency to respond to a riot or unlawful assembly in a specified manner based on specified circumstances; reclassifying the penalty for an assault committed in furtherance of a riot or an aggravated riot; prohibiting cyberintimidation by publication; prohibiting a person from willfully participating in a specified violent public disturbance resulting in specified damage or injury; creating an affirmative defense to a civil action where the plaintiff participated in a riot, etc.

Ok, so that’s a lot of moving parts. To break it down a bit further here’s the meat of the proposed changes referenced in that summary:

  • Discourages local governments from intentionally “defunding police” 
  • It defines a riot as an act of violence committed by a gathering of three or more people assembled for a common cause
  • Violence is defined as property destruction, threats of harm to others, or the physical harm of others
  • A more serious charge of an “aggravated riot” would occur if more than nine people are involved in the riot with damage exceeding $5,000

What it doesn’t do is prevent or criminalize any actual protests – regardless of size. Whether you think it’s a good idea comes down to whether you agree with the definition of a riot as outlined in the legislation. I’ll pick on up on those points in the second part of today’s Q&A.

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