Embed from Getty Images

A Kentucky state senate committee advanced a bill Thursday enhancing punishments for crimes related to rioting, including a provision making it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer to the point it could provoke a violent response.

Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Benton, a retired police officer and lead sponsor of Senate Bill 211, told the committee his legislation was a response to "riots" seen in many cities throughout the country last summer, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. 

"This is not about lawful protest in any way, shape, form or fashion," Carroll said. "This country was built on lawful protest, and it's something that we must maintain — our citizens' right to do so. What this deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts."

The proposed law makes a person guilty of disorderly conduct — a Class B misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 90 days' imprisonment — if he or she "accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person."