Rep. Carlos Bilbao, R-Emmett, offered a plan Monday to increase punishments levied on those who graffiti traffic signs and buildings. Bilbao pitched the proposal to the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee.
Bilboa cited the costs of cleanup as his reasoning for bringing the legislation before the committee. During his testimony, Bilbao said counties, cities, and business owners are being forced to absorb the cost of removing or painting over the destruction, which can sometimes have up to a $10,000 price tag.
The legislation could also apply to those who shoot and leave bullet holes in roads signs because it is a matter of public safety, said Bilbao. He said he is particularly concerned about motorists who drive in the middle of the night and may miss warning sign because the sign has been shot up or painted over.
If the measure is passed, it would become a felony to desecrate a road sign or a building if the cleanup costs exceeded $1,000 or on an offender’s third conviction of a graffiti-related offense. In an interview with IdahoReporter.com, Bilbao said if the legislation is passed as in its current form, it would allow judges the power to sentence offenders to jail terms and require those offenders to work while serving the sentence, instead of “sitting around on their fanny doing nothing in jail.” Bilbao did not specify what any sentencing maximums of minimums would be if passed.
Police have a good idea who is doing the graffiti as a result of pattern study and paint analysis, said Bilbao. He explained success rates in catching so-called graffiti artists are on the rise thanks to the new methods.
The committee voted unanimously to introduce the legislation and will hold a hearing on the matter at a later date.
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