Senator Daniel Thatcher is coming to town.
Thatcher is hosting a pre-legislative session town hall meeting for Tooele County residents at Tooele Applied Technology College this Thursday at 7 p.m.
“I’ve invited everyone,” Thatcher said. “Republicans, Democrats, unaffiliated voters, everybody is welcome.”
Thatcher, a Republican, represents State Senate District 21.
Thatcher’s district in Tooele County includes Tooele City, Pine Canyon, parts of Erda and Lake Point. The district boundaries sweep over the Oquirrh Mountains to the east from Butterfield Pass to Lake Point Junction to include Magna and parts of West Valley City, West Jordan, Kearns, and Taylorsville.
Thatcher lives in West Valley City.
During the first hour of the meeting, Thatcher will discuss and answer questions about his priorities for the 2017 legislative session. The last half hour will be for questions and comments from the audience, he said.
Some of the topics for the first hour will include suicide prevention, civil asset forfeiture, criminal record expungement, peer counseling for law enforcement, municipal code enforcement, and sentencing enhancements for victim selection.
Thatcher was a primary sponsor of the legislation that lead to the creation of the SafeUT app, an app that allow students with one touch of their smartphone to call or chat with the crisis line or submit a school safety tip.
School safety tips can include information on bullying, suicide, sexual misconduct, planned school attacks, and other safety issues.
Thatcher is sponsoring legislation in 2017 that will prepare the way for a coordinated statewide crisis line with 24/7 qualified live help.
Thatcher has also requested a bill to be drafted that will modify how and when property used in a crime can be confiscated. The legislation will also send any forfeited cash to the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.
A bill that will modify the procedure for convicted criminals to expunge, or clean, their criminal record after 10 years of no additional crime is also on Thatcher’s to do list for the 2017 session.
“We need to make it possible for these people to get on with their lives,” he said.
Thatcher also wants to create and fund a program that will train law enforcement offers to provide peer mental health counseling for their fellow officers, he said.
Thatcher also wants to make sure that law enforcement officers enforce criminal penalties for county or city code violation. Typical code violations include things like not watering your lawn, he said.
“If cities and counties want to make code enforcement a criminal issue, then those codes should be enforced by a trained law enforcement officer,” Thatcher said. “If not, then make code violations an infraction that are then enforceable but don’t go on a person’s criminal record.”
Thatcher has a bill prepared for the 2017 session titled, “Victim Selection Penalty Enhancements.” He is careful to differentiate his bill from “hate crime” legislation.
“I’m not creating any new crimes,” he said. “It is hard to prove hate, and just hating somebody is not a crime.”
Instead, Thatcher is proposing enhancements to penalties during the sentencing phase following a criminal conviction.
“There’s a difference between painting a smiley face on a synagogue and painting the words ‘Die Jews’,” he said.
The bill provides that the penalty for a criminal offense is subject to enhancement by one degree if the offender acted against an individual because of the offender’s perception of the individual’s ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation.
For example, a class C misdemeanor would treated as a Class B misdemeanor, a class B misdemeanor would treated as a Class A misdemeanor, and so on.
“We want to send a message that those that target people for crime as a way of instilling fear in our communities will not be tolerated,” Thatcher said.
Tooele Applied Technology College is located at 88 S. Tooele Boulevard in Tooele City. The 2017 legislative session starts on Jan. 23.