Over the last several days I have heard from hundreds of constituents urging me to vote against HB 163. This bill is currently before the legislature as a 600+-page amendment to HB 163. It is being pushed by Democrats as a criminal justice/police accountability bill. HB 163, as written, will not improve our criminal justice system. I believe it will have many unintended negative consequences that will make our communities less safe.
I want to assure the people of the 42nd District that I will be voting against this bill. As written, HB 163 would not improve our criminal justice system and make our communities safer. To the contrary, as written, HB is an extreme overreach and would severely inhibit our communities’ police officers from doing their job and it would make the hiring of future police officers much more difficult.
HB 163 proposes dozens of significant changes to our criminal justice system – all changes that are proposed without negotiation with those tasked with enforcing or laws. Law enforcement groups, law enforcement unions, state’s attorneys and victims’ rights organizations were not consulted. HB 163 would severely limit law enforcement officers’ ability to defend themselves, and would almost mandate that criminals walk free after being arrested or would delay their arrest. This bill would also create costly new unfunded mandates on our local law enforcement with threats of reducing their funding if they do not comply. It also opens police officers up to personal civil liability for actions they take while on the job (even if a complaint is made anonymously), and it eliminates cash bail for individuals arrested for serious crimes.
It is wildly irresponsible for Democrats to push a bill of this magnitude through in a lame duck session when outgoing lawmakers are no longer accountable to voters. Criminal justice reform and police accountability are important issues that require thorough and thoughtful debate. It requires that ALL stakeholders have a seat at the table. Because best practices for the creation of good legislation were ignored for this bill, I am pushing hard for this bill to fail.
Please join me in expressing your opposition to HB 163 by signing our petition. Click here to access our petition.