Friday, September 30, 2005

Lawmaker Calls for Harsher Punishment

State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft said today he will author legislation to increase the punishment for threatening elected officials.After receiving an anonymous death threat on his home answering machine from an individual upset with a piece of legislation, Wesselhoft believes the Legislature needs to harden punishment for these criminals.“Lawmakers sometimes propose legislation of a controversial nature and expect robust public debate,” said Wesselhoft, R-Moore. “However, there are numerous civil ways to conduct debate and defeat legislation without resorting to death threats.”Currently, Oklahoma law fines those who attempt a violent act or threat against an elected official or public officer. The crime is currently a misdemeanor.The Moore lawmaker wants to increase the penalty to no less than 90 days imprisonment in a county jail or a fine between $500 and $1,000.“The public needs to be assured that if anyone threatens the life of a legislator or any elected official, that person will serve at least 90 days in jail,” said Wesselhoft. “My job is to represent my constituents’ needs and these individuals are impeding that process making it hard for those Oklahoma citizens who truly want to their concerns to be heard.”

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