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Lawmaker says his 'mask and hood' bill was written in error

Posted at 5:49 PM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-22 23:41:58-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Legislation that would've banned the wearing of hoods and masks to hide one's identity has been pulled by the sponsor after backlash from the community.

As it was written, it would penalize anyone who wore a mask, hood or any device to conceal the identity of a person. Violation would mean a Class A misdemeanor, up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

When some people heard about the bill they were livid. Some questioned why the lawmakers, state representative Bud Hulsey and state senator Jon Lundberg would want this legislation.

Rep. Hulsey said the intent was never to ban hoodies or other clothing articles people wear on their head and face, but instead make it illegal for those who would commit crimes with a hidden face during rallies and demonstrations.

"Legal thought that it should be a broader brush," said Hulsey. "That's where the verbiage came from for hoodies and everything. The intent is still there. To mask your identity to get away with committing a crime."

Neither rallies or demonstrations were listed in the bill's language. Rep. Hulsey said he pulled the bill to make something that fell in line with his meaning.

"When people read the bill, the confusion has been huge. [Like] I'm trying to tell people how they can dress. That's not the intent of the bill at all," he said.

"I think when you obscure your identity where you cannot be identified in that setting with the ability to commit the crime as a result of it. That's the intent, then you break the law. It would be up to the police to prove the intent. There would have to be probable cause."

The lawmaker said the law is instead aimed at people and groups whose members have become violent at rallies before, such as Antifa or the KKK.

Hulsey said the new version of the bill should be done by November 5.