Proposed State Law Would Target Bomb Threats on College Campuses

Tim Goral's picture

False bomb threats have forced tens of thousands of students on college campuses around the state and country to evacuate in recent months, including a case this month at Texas A&M University.

Now, a state lawmaker wants to crack down on the offense and increase the penalty specifically for false reports made on college or university campuses. The House Criminal Jurisprudence committee will hear the bill on Tuesday.

In March, a written bomb threat was found in a Texas A&M bathroom, prompting officials to issue a "Code Maroon."

Bomb threats were made late last year at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University and Texas A&M.

Under current law, it is a felony offense to circulate or initiate a report of a bombing, fire, offense or other emergency that is false or baseless to a primary or secondary school. A felony charge also applies to bomb threats called into public services, such as water, gas or power supply.

The current offense for a threat called in to a college or university's campus is only a Class A misdemeanor.

The measure filed by state Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, would expand felony offenses to include public or private institutions of higher education for bomb threats.

A state jail felony requires no less than 180 days in state jail but no more than two years with a fine up to $10,000. A Class A misdemeanor requires no more than a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

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