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Senate votes to enhance penalty for property damage while rioting

DES MOINES — Republicans in the Iowa Senate have voted for what is likely the final version of a bill that would increase liability protection for police and raise the penalties for rioting that causes property damage. Republican Senator Julian Garrett of Indianola said it’s a necessary response to rioting that happened during some of last summer’s racial justice protests.

“We’ve got to stop this law violating. We’ve got to stop this criminal activity if we possibly can,” Garrett said. “We owe it to our constituents…to people that have businesses that are in jeopardy of being damaged and looted.”

Democrats in the Senate voted against the bill. Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids said the legislature didn’t rush to increase penalties after repeated rioting in Ames led Iowa State University to cancel its annual VEISHEA celebration in 2014.

“Oh, those were just some white kids acting poorly. We don’t need to increase the criminal penalties,” Hogg said, “…but when black people cry out in their angst…(what is) the Republican answer in the legislature?…Let’s increase the penalties by 150%.”

The Iowa House must give final approval to the bill before it goes to Governor Kim Reynolds. Republican legislators left one of the governor’s priorities out of the bill — a ban on racial profiling.

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