POSTED: 8:16 a.m. HST, Mar 1, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 8:10 p.m. HST, Mar 1, 2012
Disrespectful or contemptuous behavior at the Legislature could become a petty misdemeanor under a bill moving through the state House.
The House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill, despite receiving vehement opposition at a hearing in February, when many testifiers questioned the constitutionality of the measure and acted on their First Amendment right to free speech as they testified.
Representatives from Citizens for the Separation of State and Church stated that if the bill passes into law, they'll contest it in court.
The state attorney general expressed concerns about bill's language. For instance, if heckling and booing could be penalized, but not cheering and applauding, it could be a content-based restriction on free speech.
The committee relaxed the bill's original draft and reduced the maximum penalty to 10 days in jail.