Threats over mask mandate carry three-year prison sentence

By Guy Page

A new clause in the Senate ‘criminal threatening’ bill would levy prison sentences of up to three years to store customers who make ‘true threats’ after being asked to wear a mask, the Senate Judiciary Committee learned yesterday. 

The addition to S265 requested by Chair Richard Sears (D-Bennington) also would cover non-compliance threats by Slate Ridge, the firearms training facility, Legislative Council lawyer Ben Novogroski told the committee. In fact, it would cover true threats against someone attempting to comply with any state law, rule, or order. 

The new language reads: “ A person who violates [this law] with the intent to impede, intimidate, interfere or prevent a person from complying with state laws or rules state court or administrative orders or state executive orders shall be imprisoned not more than three years or find not more than five thousand dollars or both.”

Compared to earlier drafts of the bill, this draft enlarges the scope of illegal behavior but reduces the maximum prison sentence from five years to three. The bill already included state officials, including legislators, as reported in Vermont Daily Chronicle

Here’s the transcript from the YouTube video, edited for brevity:

Ben Novogroski, Legislative Council lawyer (one minute, 50 second mark): “What we’ve done is update a few sections to cover situations that Sen. Sears had indicated – for violations of public health orders or a situation potentially like Slate Ridge. 

“What this subsection contemplates is if an individual or business owner is put, if a true threat is levied against them for their compliance with say a masked mandate, or if there is a court order to stay away or to cease an activity and there are threats that are made for complying with that order, this would criminalize the threat to try and impede or intimidate the person from complying with one of those orders. Based on the community discussion, the penalty would be three years or a fine of not more than five thousand dollars, or both.” 

Sen. Alice Nitka (D-Windsor) asked if it would cover an argument between a customer and a store owner or employee about wearing a mask. 

Novogroski: “Our First Amendment protections really do protect debate and some pretty crude language. But if it rose to the level of a true threat where someone really feared for their life, or serious bodily injury, then this is something that could fall under this section.” 

Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) wondered what constitutes a true threat: “What I struggle with is where the line of demarcation between hyperbole, and the decision of an individual on the receiving end of that hyperbole, now becomes the basic building blocks of a felony charge. I’m running into my own observation of what the first amendment is supposed to be about, trying to balance that, and I’m struggling with this bill as a result of that.”

However, Benning added he is comfortable moving towards the heightened standard of protection given threatened federal judges and other federal officials. 

The committee also discussed reducing the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor. The bill will be discussed, and possibly voted on, on Tuesday. 

32 replies »

  1. These Vermont Democrat senators are getting desperate. The plandemic is coming to an end and they are running out of things to terrify us with and divide us. The race card is spent, the Trump card is gone, the vaccine card has played itself out. What’s left really? The war with Russia card? Let’s all pray that Biden never gets that one on the table.

  2. “…interfere,” seems like suitably vague language. So if you just politely say no, you’re interfering. Got it. All this for something that now amounts to a mild cold. Absolute hysteria.

  3. Yet another obtuse law being proposed. Joe Benning hit the nail on the head by wondering exactly a “true threat” was. It’s right up there with “personal reproductive autonomy” . . . terms that even those that introduced the proposed legislation can define.

  4. Has anyone drug-tested the drinking water in Montpelier lately? It’s the ONLY explanation for Paranoia at THIS level..And being THIS close to the END of this viral hysteria, are they anticipating another soon? Boycott the mask-Nazi stores/businesses..No mask? No problem! I’ll shop where I can breathe free, goodbye!

    • It’s not the water, it’s the out-of-state, lack of common sense liberals that moved to Bernie-land and have taken over. I worked on State St for 3 years. I couldn’t take the vapid intolerant liberal cesspool one minute longer. Sold my house and moved out of state (to a lovely conservative state).

      • This is getting out of hand. It is despicable what the “ legislators” are doing with our tax dollars. The Montpelier Nazis are coming up with some pretty Stalinesque laws. If I refuse to wear a mask because I got vaccinated AnD boosted, I can get 5 yrs in prison presumably out of state, and a $5000 fine. All for being healthy!!!!
        They are trying to legislate school mascots. They are trying to change our gun laws. They are doing NOTHING about the scourge of heroin and want to make 30 grams of coke “ personal use” instead of a felony for intent to deal. We need our police to do their jobs instead of legislating what constitutes stops for safety violations!!! I say fire them all and start from scratch. If they keep this up, we will be out of here!! Obviously, they do not care what the average native Vermonter thinks! Feels like a communist country

      • We are thinking the same , moving to conservative state. Which state is one? Was iy worth the move?

  5. All you have to do is blink at a liberal and they fall to the ground in tears because they felt “threatened”. Laws should not be based on feelings, only actions.

  6. I’m assuming brown shirts run Montpelier now. Might want to really do your homework and find some peer reviewed studies on how masking works except to shut us up! Ever hear of crimes against humanity? This whole sham will be brought to light.

  7. Meanwhile Progressive and left wing Democrat politicians, prosecutors and DA’s from around the country repeatedly turn a blind eye to thugs punching elderly men and women in the face, ignore thugs breaking into stores, smashing display cases and stealing thousands of dollars of merchandise, call lightlng police cars on fire and burning down police departments peaceful protests and the list goes on and on…….We see it every night on the news.

    But, by stupidly arguing with or making a “true threat”( Whatever that may mean) against someone over wearing a mask can fetch you up to three years in the joint?

    Is Senator Sears aware of the massive explosion of violent crime, including thousands of shooting and killings, being committed around the country and also being ignored by these very same Progressive and left wing Democrat authorities?

    How many shooting have there been in Burlington in the past year? Has that number jumped up?……Maybe that needs a look-see for evidence of “true threats”.

    • Perhaps , if one feels an imminent arrest for a heated argument or resisting “suggested” mask protocols, just start looting the place. No crime there.

  8. Guess this ferret’s out those who don’t believe in science, and/or have never worked on a dusty construction site, news flash they don’t work.


  9. So not threatening someone with perceived harm…
    Findlaw.com defines assault: “Generally speaking, “assault” occurs when someone threatens bodily harm to another in a convincing way.” The recipient perceives a threat, not always as intended by the speaker. This has been the basis of the legal term for “assault” for generations, not only now. The sad part is that we as a society need this defined.

    The Apostle Paul gives this advice when dealing with others more squeemish about things such as foods sacrificed to idols…or going around unmasked:

    However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through being hitherto accustomed to idols, eat food as really offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.
    -1 Corinthians 8:7-13 (RSV)

    If my going around without a mask, due to my deeper understanding, is causing others to stumble, entrenching them in their positions and pushing them further away from Truth, then I have an obligation to do what I can to prevent that hardship. I do not state this lightly, since I have had anxiety attacks from masks pushing on specific points on my face, as well as diminished lung capacity as a long-term result of COVID-Alpha.

    I’m sure this is not a popular opinion to either side of the political divide, but those who know me know that for me, my Christian walk is my key concern, not politics.

  10. Ok. Russia and China definitely don’t want a Republican president. Biden does not want Republicans in power. Could the Russian “invasion” of Ukraine be an international head fake that will magically vanish at the correct time so that Biden will look like he ended the international threat and the pandemic. Heck, Biden could even reverse the pipeline bans he imposed in the US as a counter to Putin’s Nord Stream. If I’m wrong it’s; “I don’t want war, Eleanor doesn’t want war, but war it is”.

  11. Sears continues his hard left turn…
    Apparently he doesn’t expect the mask theatre he helped cause to go away anytime soon.
    In supporting and amending this bill, his views on Vermont’s Constitution are clear. It is not a document he will back, as he once swore an oath to do.

  12. It will never end. Tyranny over us has been normalized. It baffles me how fear-driven our Vermont leaders have become. They are so lost and brainwashed. People are about to wake up real fast. Enough already.

  13. Release a dangerous felon to make room for my three years. Ive got $5k saved in a burried ammo box from covid stimulus $ and b.s. monthly child tax credit payments. America is run by its people!

  14. Why can’t citizens expressing their beliefs immediately be put up against a gender-neutral brick wall and shot?

  15. I assume the legislators are getting voice mails and emails that indicate Vermonters are fed up, angry, suffering, and demanding action. Citizens have the inalienable right to do so. We now see the legislators poised to upend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights with impunity. Question is will the citizens stand for this criminality or ?

  16. As a third generation Vermonter, this is why I am sadly forced to plan my exit from the Vermont borders upon retirement. Vermont no longer resembles the values it once had. Government authoritarian over the real owners of our country “The People” sidestepping U.S. and Vermont Constitution, have made living free unattainable. Between mandates that become law of the land, that violate civil and constitutional rights, an an eroding number of righteous legislation, Vermont has become “We The Government”. Between bills that make under 30 grams of Cocaine a supply for recreational use, to legalized prostitution, and a right to kill a baby on the birthing table; Vermont’s moral compass has been eliminated. The Vermont I remember and love no longer exist except in my memories. Montpelier will call this progress !

  17. Let me get this right, we are letting out of prison low level drug and sexual offenders to make space for people who challenge masks which everyone knows do not work. Glad we are focused on the importance of masking safety. Too much time on their hands in Montpelier. Either reduce the amount of time they are there or term limits. Shameful that we let this go on and on.

  18. If this passes, I will never wear a mask again. They can go ahead and throw me in the gulag, because it will be a nicer place to be than the prison on the outside.

  19. Re: “However, Benning added he is comfortable moving towards the heightened standard of protection given threatened federal judges and other federal officials.”

    If this is, indeed, a sentiment expressed by Sen. Benning, it, along with his ‘struggle’ to ‘balance’ this law with the First Amendment, indicates that he remains an elitist, as was Orwell’s Animal Farm character, Napolean, when he changed the ‘final rule’ from ‘All animals are equal’, to ‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’.

    “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” ― George Orwell, [Vermont’s on-going] Animal Farm

  20. Interesting!! My wife was verbally assaulted in 4 different stores, three times over masking and once by Vermont senator Dick McCormack demanding to know her vaccine status. He did this before seeing I was with her. I walked in alone after the incident to see if he would demand the same of me. As expected he did not, proving his cowardice and sexism. So what is the sentence for harassing some one for not masking or not revealing private medical information.

    All these incidences occurred last year when the mask mandates were removed.

  21. One would have thought there was a law against threatening someone already.Everyone needs to calm down and read my letter to editor in the Caledonian Record February 15th edition titled “From a Distance”

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