‘Criminal threatening’ bill advances to full Senate

Senate Judiciary approved S265 on Tuesday.

by Guy Page

The Vermont Senate today is scheduled to consider S265, the ‘criminal threatening’ bill that would impose prison sentences of up to two years for threatening public officials and others. 

The bill was approved by Senate Judiciary this week by a 4-1 vote. Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) was the dissenting vote. 

During committee discussions, Chair Dick Sears said the bill is necessary to protect (among others) store employees explicitly threatened by people angered at being asked to wear masks and school board, and other government officials faced with hostile threats. Earlier drafts of the bill had prison sentences of up to five years. 

The bill adds two clauses to a bill passed to protect social services workers, in the wake of the 2015 shooting of Lara Sobel in Barre:

“A person who [makes] a threat that places any person in reasonable apprehension that death or serious bodily injury will occur at a public or private school; postsecondary education institution; place of worship; polling place during election activities; the Vermont State House; or any federal, State, or municipal building shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $2,000.00, or both.”


“A person who [acts] with the intent to terrify, intimidate, or unlawfully influence a person to prevent that person from complying with State laws or rules, State court or administrative orders, or State executive orders shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined

not more than $2,000.00, or both.”

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12 replies »

  1. But they can impose UNCONSTITUTIONAL mandates on WE THE PEOPLE. Sounds like a liberal state.

  2. This legislation clearly stops well short of what Sen. Justin Trudeau Sears wants- further polarization of Vermont and an elimination of political discourse, under threat of imprisonment.
    Unfortunately for JT Sears- he didn’t think of freezing bank accounts or confiscation of assets as well. There’s always next year.
    As more traditional Vermont residents move away in disgust and frustration, more libs and socialists move in- clamoring for legislation such as that is coming out of the golden dome this year. Vermont is in a race for the bottom with New York, California and Michigan.

  3. Wow. Can’t believe what is happening in this state. So you make a remark about politician you get 2 years. But we defund the police and make no bail for people who commit crimes and hurt average Vermont citizens. I cant read these articles. If these politicians want this lifestyle why don’t they move to any democratic city in America.

    • These politicians all live and represent democrat/progressive controlled cities. Justin Trudeau Sears, Bennington. Becca pelosi Balint, Brattleboro. Jill AOC Krowinski, Burlington. Need I go on? It may well be that we are the interlopers, whether we have 8 generations of history here or not.

  4. I’m ‘terrified’ and ‘intimidated’ by the language in this proposed bill. When/if it passes, will I have recourse against the legislators proposing it?

  5. Just out of curiosity, does this bill work bith ways? If it’s illegal to use an annoyed tone of voice when someone criticizes your making technique, it is also illegal when a government official says things that are threatening to our freedom?

  6. I love the observations in the comments! Finland is grappling with a somewhat similar issue now as two members of their parliament may get sentenced to two years in jail for “ethnic agitation” which appears to refer to their expressions of religious views (in public no less!). Do our legislators get their marching orders from these countries?

  7. Appears the judiciary committees will keep the courts busy for quite some time! Unfortunately, most cases are backed up so badly most of the litigants will have passed on by the time it hits the docket. No justice in Pervmont.

  8. Has anyone defined what is “threatening language” spoken or written to a public official.

  9. Anything you say “WILL” be used against you in a court of Law.
    Anything they “WANT” will be used against you also.
    Their elitist’s rights mean everything.
    Our constitutional rights mean “Nothing”
    Let’s elect them again, Shall we ?