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Summary: HB 734 would mandate an enhanced penalty for a Class B or Class A misdemeanor if the trial reveals that the defendant had previously been convicted two or more times of a Class B misdemeanor or higher. The new penalties would be a fine between $2,000-$4,000 and confinement between 180 days-1 year.
Analysis: We agree that repeat offenders should be punished more harshly than first time offenders. However, HB 734 is a blanket penalty increase for all Class B and Class A misdemeanors including the over 1,500 offenses located outside the Penal Code. Additionally, this bill would enhance penalties for offenses in the Penal Code such as obstructing a road. We believe that penalty enhancements should be focused, specific, and backed up by data demonstrating that current penalties are insufficient. Also, this bill contains no provision concerning the amount of time that has elapsed since the last conviction. An individual who committed a misdemeanor a decade ago and paid the price should not have a penalty enhanced over a decade later. We recommend voting NO on HB 734.