US Protest Law Tracker

The US Protest Law Tracker, part of ICNL’s US Program, follows initiatives at the state and federal level since November 2016 that restrict the right to protest. For information about our methodology, click here.

35 states have
considered
93 bills
12 enacted 2 enacted with
improvements
22 pending 57 defeated or
expired

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation and executive orders

Latest updates: Apr. 12, 2019 (North Dakota), Apr. 11, 2019 (Minnesota), Apr. 1, 2019 (Kentucky)
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US Federal

Executive Order 13809: Giving riot gear and other military equipment to local police

The “Presidential Executive Order on Restoring State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement's Access to Life-Saving Equipment and Resources” reinstates a program that transfers surplus military equipment to police departments across the country. President Obama had scaled back the 1990s-era program in 2015, following the heavily armed police response to protests against the killing of black men in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere. With Executive Order 13809, President Trump restored the program, and police departments will again receive free weaponized vehicles, certain large-caliber ammunition, riot gear, and other military equipment – which may once again be used when responding to protests. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 28 Aug 2017; Issued 28 Aug 2017

Issue(s): police response

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US Federal

HR 6054: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

The “Unmask Antifa Act of 2018” would make it a federal crime, subject to a lengthy prison sentence, to wear a mask or other disguise while protesting in a “threatening” or “intimidating” way. Under the act, anyone who “injures, oppresses, threatens, or intimidates any person” while “in disguise, including while wearing a mask” could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison as well as fined. The bill explicitly exempts police and other law enforcement agents, stating that “nothing in this section shall be construed so as to deter any law enforcement officer from lawfully carrying out the duties of his office.” The name of the bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Daniel Donovan and supported by Reps. Peter King, Ted Budd, and Paul Gosar, refers to the leftist anti-Fascist movement, some members of which have worn masks during protests. The bill expired with the close of the 115th Congress on January 3, 2019. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Jun 2018.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Alabama

HB 94: Felony charges for disruptive protesters

Would make it a felony for a person to do something illegal to prevent "or attempt to prevent" a public speaking event. Accordingly, a protester who disrupts a public speech while committing another infraction (e.g. trespassing) could be charged with a Class B felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Critics argue that the bill provides for disproportionately harsh penalties, and that its broad language would enable authorities to enforce it selectively. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Jan 2018.

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Arizona

SB 1033: Felony penalty for protesters who conceal their identity

Would heighten the penalties for an individual convicted of participating in an unlawful assembly or a riot, if the individual "obscures or hides the person's identity with a mask, disguise, makeup, or other device" during the event. Under the bill, conviction for unlawful assembly (a Class 1 misdemeanor) would become a Class 6 felony if committed while wearing a mask, punishable by up to two years in prison. Conviction for riot (a Class 5 felony) would become a Class 4 felony if committed while wearing a mask and subject to up to four years in prison. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 13 Dec 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings, riot

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Arizona

SB 1142: Expanded definition of “riot”

Would have substantially broadened the definition of “riot,” from the reckless use or threat of force that disturbs the public peace, to such use or threat of force that either disturbs the public peace or causes property damage. Under the bill, organizers and protesters could be charged as conspirators, and bystanders could be held liable if they witness someone declare an intention to start a riot. The bill also adds “riot” to the list of offenses included under racketeering law, such that participating in or being near a riot could lead to prosecution on felony racketeering charges. The bill provides that prosecutors may seize a person's assets under civil forfeiture laws in addition to filing enhanced felony criminal charges. After the bill’s approval by the Arizona Senate on February 22, 2017, the House of Representatives rejected the bill. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 19 Jan 2017; Approved by Senate on 22 Feb 2017; House consideration denied 28 Feb 2017

Issue(s): conspiracy, riot

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Arizona

HB 2007: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

**HB 2007 was signed into law following amendments that removed the most restrictive provisions.** As originally introduced in the House, the bill made it a felony to wear any kind of disguise at a protest. The introduced bill broadly prohibited disguises, “whether partial or complete,” that an individual wore at a protest, political event, or any other public event in order “to evade or escape discovery, recognition or identification.” Under the introduced bill, police would have had authority to detain any individual wearing a disguise in order to verify his or her identity and determine if the person had committed a crime; violation of the disguise ban would have been a Class 6 felony, subject to one year in prison. The sponsor of the bill said it was inspired by clashes between police and protesters, some of whom were masked, outside a 2017 rally for President Trump. Following widespread criticism, the bill was comprehensively revised to a single provision that would allow courts to consider it an aggravating factor, for sentencing purposes, if an individual wore a mask or other disguise to hide their face while committing a criminal offense. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted with improvements

Introduced 21 Nov 2017; Governor Ducey signed it 23 March 2018 but the most problematic provisions were defeated.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Arkansas

SB 118: Criminal penalties for school and university campus protesters

Would create a new criminal sanction that could be applied to peaceful protesters on public university as well as high school grounds. The bill contains 17 broadly-worded “guarantees of free speech,” including a provision that “a student shall not significantly obstruct the freedom of other speakers”…“to state their own views on campus.” The bill provides that anyone who negligently violates any of the “rights” provided for in the bill is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, which in Arkansas is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Accordingly, a student who was deemed to have “significantly obstructed” the speech of a controversial campus speaker, for example, could be charged with a serious misdemeanor. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 17 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): campus speech

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Arkansas

AB 550: Criminalizing “unlawful mass picketing”

Would have introduced a new crime, “unlawful mass picketing.” Under the bill, picketing or demonstrating near a private establishment, business, or school would be illegal if it obstructs the entrance to a place of employment or blocks use of roads, railways, or airports. Commission of unlawful mass picketing would be a Class A misdemeanor, subject to up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Mar 2017; Approved by Senate 13 March 2017; Approved by House 29 March 2017; Vetoed by Governor Hutchinson 6 April 2017

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Colorado

SB18-264: Barring teachers from protesting in support of a teachers' strike

Would have prohibited public school teachers from participating in protests that supported a teachers’ strike. The bill broadly bans all public school teachers from “directly or indirectly” “inducing, instigating,” or “encouraging” a strike “against any public school employer.” Accordingly, teachers that were not participating in a strike could be barred from participating in a protest or demonstration deemed to “indirectly” “encourage[]” the strike, even outside of school hours. The bill provides that any teacher who is “convicted of violating” the bill’s provisions, including its ban on direct or indirect support of strikes, is to be “immediately terminate[d]” by their public school employer; that he or she is not entitled to a hearing or judicial review of the termination; and that he or she is barred from public school employment for one year following termination. Lawmakers introduced the bill as teachers across the state threatened to go on strike for higher wages and increased education funding. After the bill received immediate, widespread criticism in the days following its introduction, a Senate committee voted to postpone it indefinitely, and its sponsors said they would withdraw it. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 20 Apr 2018.

Issue(s): strikes

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Colorado

SB 17-035: Heightened penalties for protesting near oil and gas equipment

Would have substantially increased penalties for environmental protesters. Under the bill, obstructing or tampering with oil and gas equipment is reclassified from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The bill’s language broadly includes anyone who “attempts to alter, obstruct, interrupt, or interfere with the action of any equipment used or associated with oil or gas gathering operations.” In addition to imposing much steeper penalties on anyone engaging in such activity, the bill also provides that oil and gas firms (or any other “victim” of tampering) may pursue separate claims against a protester who is also being prosecuted by the state. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 11 Jan 2017; Approved by Senate 28 March 2017; Failed in House committee 12 April 2017

Issue(s): infrastructure

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Florida

EXECUTIVE ORDER 17-264: Declaring a state of emergency ahead of Richard Spencer speech

Declares a state of emergency ahead of expected protests of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Governor Scott’s order cites earlier protests and counter-protests triggered by Mr. Spencer at other universities, as well as requests from local law enforcement for additional resources to support expanded security measures ahead of Mr. Spencer’s speech. Among other things, the executive order activates the Florida National Guard, allows for the closure of affected government buildings and facilities, and authorizes a waiver of certain budget restrictions to fund the emergency response. The order establishes a state of emergency in Alachua County for seven days, until October 23, 2017. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 16 Oct 2017; Effective until 23 Oct 2017

Issue(s): state of emergency

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Florida

SB 1096/HB 1419: Eliminating driver liability for hitting protesters

Would have criminalized the obstruction of traffic during an unpermitted protest or demonstration as a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine. The bill also eliminates civil liability for a driver who unintentionally injures or kills a protestor interfering with traffic during an unpermitted protest or demonstration. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 21 Feb 2017; Introduced 7 March 2017 in House; Failed in Senate committee 8 May 2017

Issue(s): driver immunity, traffic interference

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Georgia

SB 160: Heightened penalties for blocking traffic

As introduced and passed by the Georgia Senate, the “Back the Badge” bill included heightened penalties for intentionally or recklessly blocking “any highway, street, sidewalk, or other passage.” Accordingly, protesters and demonstrators peacefully obstructing a public sidewalk could have been charged with a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, which under Georgia law is subject to up to a $5,000 fine or up to one year in jail. These provisions were removed, however, in the version of the bill approved by the House of Representatives and sent to the Governor on April 10, 2017. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 10 Apr 2017; Approved by Senate 24 Feb 2017; Approved by House 24 March 2017 without protest provisions

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Georgia

SB 1: Expanding definition of “domestic terrorism”

Would have broadened the definition of “domestic terrorism” under Georgia law to potentially include demonstrations, boycotts, and other forms of protest and political expression. Under the bill, the previously high bar for committing domestic terrorism – harm caused to a group of 10 or more individuals – is lowered to include causing harm to at least one individual or disabling “critical infrastructure.” The new target, “critical infrastructure” is in turn very broadly defined to include “public or private systems, functions or assets, whether physical or virtual, vital to the security, governance, public health and safety, economy, or morale of this state or the United States.” The bill also introduces a new provision targeting actions that have a political or ideological component, such that domestic terrorism would include an action intended to advance “any ideology or belief,” whether held individually or as part of a group. Commission of domestic terrorism as defined by the bill would be a felony punishable by prison sentences ranging from five years to life. Given the broad language of the bill and extreme penalties involved, rights leaders feared that it was aimed to monitor, punish, and chill free speech activities including protests. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 10 Jan 2017; Approved by Senate 1 March 2017; Failed in House 28 March 2017

Issue(s): infrastructure, terrorism

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Georgia

SB 339: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

**SB 339 was signed into law following amendments that removed the most restrictive provisions.** As originally introduced, Senate Bill 339 would have created mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The introduced bill required public universities and community colleges to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction individuals involved in “protests or demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity” on campus. Additionally, the introduced bill required administrators to suspend for at least one year or expel any student who was twice “found responsible for infringing on the expressive rights of others,” such as through a protest of a campus speaker. Amendments to the bill removed the provisions related to specific sanctions, prior to the bill's passage by the Senate. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted with improvements

Introduced 19 Jan 2018; Governor Deal signed it 8 May 2018

Issue(s): campus speech

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Idaho

SB 1090: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Would create new potential penalties for protests near oil or gas pipelines and other infrastructure facilities, including those under construction. The bill creates two new offenses: “critical infrastructure trespass,” and “impeding critical infrastructure.” Critical infrastructure trespass is defined in the bill as knowingly entering onto infrastructure property without authorization or not leaving once notified to depart; the bill classifies it as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. “Impeding” critical infrastructure is defined to include “preventing legal access to” a critical infrastructure property or construction site. Under the bill, such impediment is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if the impediment results in $1,000 worth of damage or economic loss. If the damage or loss is less than $1,000, the offense is punishable by six months’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. The bill also provides that an organization “that aids, abets, solicits, compensates, hires, conspires with, commands, or procures” someone to impede critical infrastructure is subject to a $100,000 fine and liable for a civil action by the infrastructure facility. "Critical infrastructure facility" is broadly defined and among many other things includes oil and gas pipelines, refineries, water treatment plants, cell phone towers, and railroad tracks—-as well as "[a]ny facility included [above] that is lawfully permitted and under construction.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 11 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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Illinois

HB 2280: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. Like HB 2939, introduced in the 2017-2018 session, HB 2280 requires public universities and community colleges to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction any “protests or demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity” on campus. Additionally, the bill requires administrators to suspend for at least one year or expel any student who is twice “found responsible for infringing on the expressive rights of others,” such as through a protest of a campus speaker. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 8 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): campus speech

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Illinois

HB 1633: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Would heighten the penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure that involve trespassing onto infrastructure property. Under the bill, knowingly trespassing to a critical infrastructure facility is a Class 4 felony, punishable by $1,000 and 3 years in prison. Aggravated criminal trespass to a critical infrastructure facility--defined as trespass with intent to vandalize, deface, or tamper with the facility--is a Class 3 felony punishable by $10,000 and 10 years in prison. The bill would also create a broadly-defined new offense, “criminal damage to a critical infrastructure facility,” which includes knowingly vandalizing, defacing, or tampering with critical infrastructure and does not require actual damage. The offense is a Class 1 felony, punishable by $100,000 and 15 years in prison. An individual convicted of any of the offenses is also civilly liable for money damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees to the owner of the property, for any damage sustained. An organization found to have conspired with an individual to commit any of the offenses is liable for a fine of at least ten times the minimum fine authorized for the individual. The bill newly defines “critical infrastructure facility” under Illinois law to include a range of oil, gas, electric, water, telecommunications, and railroad facilities that are fenced off or clearly posted. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 1 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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Illinois

HB 2939: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill requires public universities and community colleges to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction any “protests or demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity” on campus. Additionally, the bill requires administrators to suspend for at least one year or expel any student who is twice “found responsible for infringing on the expressive rights of others,” such as through a protest of a campus speaker. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Feb 2017.

Issue(s): campus speech

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Indiana

SB 471: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Would heighten the penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure by creating the offenses of "criminal infrastructure facility trespass" and "critical infrastructure facility mischief." The bill provides that an individuals who knowingly enters critical infrastructure facility without permission commits critical infrastructure facility trespass, a Level 6 felony punishable by up to 30 months in prison. Under the bill, recklessly or knowingly defacing such a facility constitutes critical infrastructure facility mischief, punishable by up to six years in prison as a Level 5 felony. In either case, the individual may additionally be liable to the property owner for damages, costs, and attorney's fees. An organization found to have conspired with an individual who commits either offense may also be liable for a fine of $100,000. The bill newly defines “critical infrastructure facility” under Indiana law to include a range of oil, gas, electric, water, telecommunications, and railroad facilities, as well as any “facility that is substantially similar” to one of the listed facilities. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 14 Jan 2019; Approved by Senate 7 Feb 2019; Approved by House 25 March 2019

Issue(s): infrastructure

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Indiana

SB 78: Increased penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would enhance the penalty for a person who commits a "public order offense" while wearing a mask. Public order offenses include disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly, and rioting--generally all misdemeanors. The bill provides that if a person committed such an offense, the prosecutor may seek an additional prison term of up to 30 months if the state can prove that the person intentionally concealed their identity by wearing mask or other face covering. The same bill was initially introduced in January 2018 as SB 73. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 3 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): face coverings, riot

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Indiana

SB 285: Heightened police response to protests that block traffic

As introduced, the bill would have allowed law enforcement officials to use “any means necessary” to break up public assemblies that obstructed traffic. The bill defines “mass traffic obstruction” as an obstruction of street or highway traffic by at least 10 people as part or result of a protest, riot, or other assembly. It provides that public officials were obliged within 15 minutes of learning of a mass traffic obstruction to dispatch all available law enforcement with directions to “use any means necessary” to clear the roads of the persons obstructing traffic. After extensive committee amendments softening the bill, the Indiana Senate voted on February 27, 2017 effectively to vacate it and instead create a study committee to examine what constitutes a “reasonable response” to mass traffic obstruction. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Jan 2017; Amended in committee 23 Feb 2017; Effectively vacated 27 Feb 2017

Issue(s): police response, traffic interference

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Iowa

SF 2222: Heightened penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would prohibit persons from standing on Iowa highways with the intention of blocking traffic. The bill, which sponsors say is designed to target disruptive highway protests, provides that a person "shall not loiter, or place or cause to be placed any obstruction" on a highway "with the intention of blocking the normal and reasonable movement of motor vehicle traffic." Individuals who do so may be charged with a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,875 fine. A second offense is an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years' imprisonment and a $6,250 fine; a third offense is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine. The bill was originally introduced in March 2017 as SF 426. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Mar 2017.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Kansas

HB 2612: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would create the crime of concealing one's identity during a public demonstration. The bill provides that wearing a mask, hood, or any other device that “covers any portion of the face to conceal the identity of the wearer” while participating in a public demonstration or protest would be a Class A misdemeanor, if done to intimidate another person or while engaged in any unlawful activity. Accordingly, a protester whose identity was masked by a facial covering and who committed some other infraction could be sentenced to a year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500, or both. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Feb 2018; Died in committee 4 May 2018

Issue(s): face coverings

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Kentucky

HB 238: New penalties for protests near pipelines and other infrastructure

Would create new potential criminal and civil penalties for protests around oil or gas pipelines and other infrastructure facilities. The bill expands the definition of “key infrastructure assets" to include “national gas or petroleum pipelines.” Encompassed facilities and properties designated “key infrastructure assets” are not limited to areas that are fenced off or posted by “no entry” signs. Under the bill, a person who “intentionally… vandalizes, defaces… or impedes or inhibits” key infrastructure is guilty of “trespass upon key infrastructure assets in the first degree.” It is unclear whether a protest that “impeded” access to a pipeline by blocking a road, or one that “inhibited” the operation of a pipeline by blocking pipeline construction or repair equipment, would fall under this definition. The offense is categorized as a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. The bill also provides that an individual convicted of the offense may be civilly liable for “any damages to personal or real property while trespassing.” Finally, the bill provides that a person or “entity” that “compensates or remunerates a person for trespassing” may be held liable for damages, as well. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 5 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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Kentucky

HB 53: Eliminating driver liability for hitting protesters

Would eliminate all liability for drivers who injure or kill a protester who is blocking traffic. The bill creates a new Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, for interfering with traffic on a public road during a protest for which a permit has not been granted. Under the bill, a motorist who injures or kills an individual who is interfering with traffic during such an event cannot be held criminally or civilly liable, unless the action was intentional. The bill, prefiled as BR 305 on October 24, 2017, also prohibits the wearing of face coverings and bearing of weapons near a public protest. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Jan 2018.

Issue(s): driver immunity, face coverings, weapons

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Kentucky

BR 175: Criminalizing face coverings and weapons near protests

Would create new penalties for wearing masks or protective gear, or carrying a weapon near a public protest. According to the prefiled bill, an individual within 500 feet of a protest may not wear a mask, hood, helmet, or other facade that “covers any portion of his or her face.” Likewise, individuals within 500 feet of a protest may not wear protective gear such as shields or armor, nor carry a deadly or dangerous weapon. Under the bill, commission of either act comprises “disruption of a public protest,” punishable as a Class A misdemeanor with up to twelve months in jail and a $500 fine. BR 175 was ultimately withdrawn, but its provisions on "disruption of a public protest" were included in HB 53 at the beginning of the 2018 legislative session. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 24 Aug 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings, weapons

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Louisiana

HB 727: Heightened penalties for protesting near a pipeline

Targets protests around gas and oil pipelines by expanding the definition of “critical infrastructure” and providing for the offense of "unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure." Under the law, "critical infrastructure" is amended to include "pipelines," "any site where the construction or improvement of [pipelines or any other listed infrastructure facility] is taking place," as well as "all structures, equipment, or other immovable or movable property located within or upon" such facilities. Unauthorized entry onto critical infrastructure property as defined above is punishable by imprisonment with or without hard labor for up to five years and a fine of $1,000. As originally introduced, the law included a new crime of “conspiracy to engage in unauthorized entry” of a critical infrastructure facility, punishable by imprisonment with or without hard labor for up to five years and a fine of $10,000, such that individuals who only planned to hold a peaceful protest on infrastructure property could be prosecuted. The amended and enacted version of the bill removed the provisions on conspiracy, however. In addition, prior to the law’s enactment, provisions were added to mandate that the law would not apply to "[l]awful assembly and peaceful and orderly petition, picketing, or demonstration for the redress of grievances or to express ideas or views regarding legitimate matters of public interest." (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 26 Mar 2018; Approved by House 12 April 2018; Approved by the Senate 8 May 2018; Signed into law by Governor Edwards 30 May 2018

Issue(s): infrastructure, trespass

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Louisiana

HB 269: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would have created mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill prohibits “protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity” on college campuses. In addition, the bill requires public colleges to suspend for at least one year or expel any student found responsible for infringing the expressive rights of others, including by protesting. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 30 Mar 2017; Vetoed by Governor Edwards 27 June 2017

Issue(s): campus speech

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Massachusetts

HD 2369: Prohibition on masked demonstrations

Would compel the immediate dispersal of a demonstration or other assembly of people wearing masks or other disguises. The bill provides that if a group of five or more individuals who are "masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration" assemble together, authorities should command them to disperse. If the assembly does not immediately disperse, they are deemed a riot or unlawful assembly and the authorities can compel anyone present to help "suppress" the assembly and arrest those participating. The bill makes no exception for religious or festive attire. Nor does it require any malicious intent by those assembling or conduct beyond wearing masks and assembling in a group. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 17 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): face coverings, riot

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Massachusetts

HB 916: New penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would provide for harsh new penalties for individuals who impede traffic in the course of a protest or demonstration. The bill creates a broad offense of intentionally blocking, obstructing, impeding or otherwise interfering with the “normal and reasonable movement of vehicular or pedestrian traffic” on a public street or highway, punishable by up to $5,000 and a year in jail. Under the bill, police may arrest without a warrant any person they have probable cause to believe has unlawfully impeded traffic. The bill further makes any person convicted of unlawfully impeding traffic liable for the costs incurred by public and/or private emergency services in responding to the incident. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 30 Jun 2017.

Issue(s): security costs, traffic interference

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Michigan

SB 350: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill requires community and public colleges to prohibit and subject to sanction any “protests or demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity” on campus. The bill requires that college administrators suspend for at least one year or expel any student who is twice “found responsible for infringing on the expressive rights of others,” for instance through a protest or demonstration. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 May 2017.

Issue(s): campus speech

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Michigan

HB 4643: Heightened penalties for picketing and protesting

Would have dramatically increased penalties for picketing and protesting, and made it easier for a court to order that a demonstration cease. Under the bill, individuals who return to a disruptive demonstration already blocked by a court would face fines of up to $1,000 per day, with unions or other groups liable to up to $10,000 per day. The bill allows employers or others affected by mass picketing to bring an action against the demonstrators in local circuit court. It also lowers the threshold required for a court to order picketers and protesters to stop demonstrating. Under the bill, employers can obtain injunctive relief in some cases. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 29 Nov 2016; Failed in committee

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Minnesota

SF 2011: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would create new potential penalties for protests near pipelines, utilities, and "critical public service facilities." The bill criminalizes trespass onto such properties, including those under construction, as a gross misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. Trespass “with the intent to disrupt the operation or provision of services” by the pipeline or utility, is a felony under the bill, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The bill also newly provides that a court may order anyone convicted of the above offenses to pay for “the costs and expenses resulting from the crime.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 4 Mar 2019.

Issue(s): damage costs, infrastructure, security costs, trespass

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Minnesota

HF 1383: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill provides that the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities must adopt a policy of sanctioning anyone under an institution's jurisdiction who "materially and substantially interferes with the free expression of others." According to the bill, the policy must include that any student who has twice been found guilty of "infringing the expressive rights of others"--for instance, through a protest--will be suspended for at least one year or expelled. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 18 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): campus speech

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Minnesota

HF 390: New penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would heighten potential penalties for protesters who intentionally disrupt traffic on a freeway or a roadway on airport property. The version of HF 390 introduced in the 2019-2020 session uses a definition of the offense that is similar to that of HF 390 from the 2017-2018 session, and would result in the same sanctions: Intentional traffic disruption on freeways or airport roadways would be a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. The provisions would be added to Minnesota statutes on public nuisance, however, rather than those on roads and right-of-way. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 28 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Minnesota

SF 3463: New penalties for "critical infrastructure" protesters and their supporters

Would have created new civil liability for protesters on infrastructure property, as well as vicarious liability for any individual or organization who supported them. The bill would make someone who trespasses on property containing a "critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline" liable for any damages to persons or property, and any person or entity that "recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with them" vicariously liable for such damages. Under Minnesota law, a person who trespasses on infrastructure property is guilty of a gross misdemeanor; the bill would make anyone who "recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with" a trespasser likewise guilty of a gross misdemeanor, which is punishable by one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. If the person trespasses "with the intent to significantly disrupt the operation of or the provision of services" by the facility, the bill would make anyone who "recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with" the trespasser guilty of a felony and subject to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The phrase "significantly disrupt" could be construed to encompass peaceful protests that block access to infrastructure, for instance, which under Minnesota law is broadly defined to include bus stations and bridges. The broad terms used in the vicarious liability provisions could even be construed to include aiding a protester by providing them with water or medical assistance. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 12 Mar 2018; Approved by Senate 7 May 2018; Approved by House 19 May 2018; Vetoed by Governor Dayton 30 May 2018

Issue(s): damage costs, conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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Minnesota

HF 1066/SF 918: Heightened penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would heighten penalties for any individual who “interferes with, obstructs, or renders dangerous for passage” any public highway or any right-of-way within airport property. According to the bill, such interference or obstruction is classified as a public nuisance and a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a $3,000 fine and one year of jail time. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Feb 2017.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Minnesota

HF 896/SF 803: Heightened penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would have increased penalties for protestors who intentionally obstruct highway or public roadway access to airports. Under the bill, such obstruction is classified as a gross misdemeanor rather than a misdemeanor. The bill, an omnibus public safety measure, incorporates language from two previously proposed bills aimed at heightening penalties on protesters. It would have allowed prosecutors to seek a $3,000 fine and one year of jail time for protesters intentionally blocking or interfering with traffic on a highway or public roadway within the boundaries of airport property. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Feb 2017; Vetoed by Governor Dayton 15 May 2017

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Minnesota

HF 322/SF 679: Charging protesters for the cost of responding to a protest

Would allow the state to sue protesters and charge them for the costs of policing a public assembly. The bill gives state agencies, cities, and counties the authority to bring civil lawsuits against people convicted of unlawful assembly or public nuisance. The lawsuits could seek the full cost of responding to the unlawful assembly, including officer time, law enforcement helicopters, and administrative expenses. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Feb 2017.

Issue(s): security costs

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Minnesota

HF 390: Heightened penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would have increased penalties for protesters who intentionally obstruct highways or public roadway access to airports, or interfered with a transit operator. Under the bill, the offense of highway or airport access obstruction would have been a gross misdemeanor rather than a misdemeanor, punishable by a $3,000 fine and one year in jail. Provisions added to the bill during the 2018 session--following a high-profile incident in which protesters sat on light-rail tracks--would have broadened the offense of "unlawful interference with a transit operator" to include any act that "restricts passenger access to the transit vehicle." Penalties for that offense would likewise be increased to a $3,000 fine and one year in jail. In his message vetoing the bill, Governor Dayton cited the bill's vague provisions as well as the fact that the offenses were already prohibited and subject to sufficient sanctions under Minnesota law. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 23 Jan 2017; Approved by House 8 May 2018; Approved by Senate 14 May 2018; Vetoed by Governor Dayton 19 May 2018

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Mississippi

SB 2474: New penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would create a new offense of “maliciously impeding traffic on a public road.” According to the bill, the obstruction of a public road or highway by a person “sitting, standing, or lying” would be a misdemeanor punishable by a six-month prison sentence or a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Like SB 2730--the version of the bill introduced in the 2017-2018 session--SB 2474 both creates a new offense and expands the scope of its application to include blockages of public roads, not just highways. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 21 Jan 2019; Died in committee 5 February 2019

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Mississippi

SB 2754: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Would create new potential penalties for protests near oil or gas pipelines and other infrastructure facilities, including those under construction. The bill creates two new offenses: “critical infrastructure trespass,” and “impeding critical infrastructure.” Critical infrastructure trespass is defined in the bill as knowingly entering onto infrastructure property without authorization or not leaving once notified to depart; the bill classifies it as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. “Impeding” critical infrastructure is defined to include “preventing legal access to” a critical infrastructure property or construction site. Under the bill, such impediment is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if the impediment results in $1,000 worth of damage or economic loss. If the damage or loss is less than $1,000, the offense is punishable by six months’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. The bill also provides that an organization “that aids, abets, solicits, compensates, hires, conspires with, commands or procures” someone to impede critical infrastructure is subject to a $100,000 fine and liable for a civil action by the infrastructure facility. "Critical infrastructure facility" is broadly defined and among many other things includes oil and gas pipelines, refineries, water treatment plants, cell phone towers, and railroad tracks—-as well as "[a]ny site where the construction or improvement of any [referenced] facility... is ongoing.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 21 Jan 2019; Approved by Senate 11 Feb 2019

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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Mississippi

SB 2730: New penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would have created the felony crime of “maliciously impeding traffic on a public road.” The obstructing of a public road or highway by a person “sitting, standing, or lying” would be punishable by a five-year prison sentence or a fine of up to $10,000, or both. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 16 Jan 2017; Failed in senate committee 31 Jan 2017

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Missouri

HB 1413: Limiting public employees' ability to picket

Bars certain public employees from picketing. The law requires that all labor agreements negotiated between a "public body" and a labor organization "shall expressly prohibit all strikes and picketing of any kind." The law further mandates that such agreements provide for the "immediate termination" of "any public employee who...pickets over any personnel matter." "Public body" is broadly defined in the law to include "the state of Missouri, or any officer, agency, department, bureau, division, board or commission of the state, or any other political subdivision or special district of or within the state"; accordingly, the law may apply to many labor agreements. While "picketing" is not defined under the law, Missouri Code elsewhere refers to "picketing or other organized protests" as "constitutionally protected activity," indicating that picketing as used in HB 1413 includes protests and demonstrations unrelated to labor strikes. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 3 Jan 2018; Approved by House 12 February 2018; approved by Senate 16 May 2018; Signed by Governor Greitens 1 June 2018

Issue(s): strikes

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Missouri

SB 293: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Would heighten potential penalties for protests near oil or gas pipelines and other infrastructure facilities, including those under construction. The bill creates the offense of "willful critical infrastructure trespass," defined as willfully entering property containing a critical infrastructure facility or the construction site of such a facility, without permission of the property's owner or lawful occupant. Under the bill, willful critical infrastructure trespass is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. A person who willfully trespasses with the intent to "impede or inhibit" the infrastructure facility or construction site is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,000. The bill also provides that an organization found to be a "conspirator" with anyone convicted of the above offenses is liable to a fine of ten times that levied on the individual. "Critical infrastructure facility" is broadly defined and among many other things includes oil and gas pipelines, refineries, water treatment plants, cell phone towers, and railroad tracks--"whether under construction or operational." (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 24 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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Missouri

HB 442: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would expand the state's 2015 "Campus Free Expression Act" to include provisions requiring universities to impose specific, mandatory penalties on certain campus protesters. The bill--identical to HB 2423, introduced in 2018--provides that any student who is twice found responsible for "infringing upon the expressive rights of others" should be suspended for at least one year or expelled. The bill also calls for a "range of disciplinary sanctions" to be imposed on anyone under the university's jurisdiction who "materially and substantially interferes with the free expression of others." As in HB 2423, HB 442 also waives Missouri's immunity from federal lawsuits related to the law, such that a speaker or student group who feels the law is insufficiently enforced could sue the state and/or university in federal or state court. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 9 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): campus speech

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Missouri

HB 288: Expanded definition for "unlawful assembly" and new penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would dramatically increase potential penalties for individuals who protest on public streets or highways, by expanding the definition of “unlawful assembly” and creating the crime of “unlawful traffic interference.” The bill broadly defines an “unlawful assembly” as two or more people who meet “for the purpose of violating any of the criminal laws” of Missouri or the U.S. (Current Missouri law requires six people who assemble to violate criminal laws with force or violence.) The bill provides that commission of unlawful traffic interference while participating in an unlawful assembly is a Class D felony, which is subject to up to seven years in prison. Prefiled on December 18, 2018, in advance of the 2019 session, the bill is substantially the same as the expired bill HB 2145, but would make a first offense of unlawful traffic interference while participating in an unlawful assembly subject to a suspended sentence, with supervised probation for five years, 100 hours of community service, and a fine of up to $1,000. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 4 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Missouri

HB 2423: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would expand the state's 2015 "Campus Free Expression Act," which banned so-called campus "free speech zones," to include provisions requiring universities to impose specific, mandatory penalties on certain campus protesters. The bill provides that any student who is twice found responsible for "infringing upon the expressive rights of others" should be suspended for at least one year or expelled. The bill also calls for a "range of disciplinary sanctions" to be imposed on anyone under the university's jurisdiction who "materially and substantially interferes with the free expression of others." (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Feb 2018.

Issue(s): campus speech

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Missouri

HB 2145: Expanded definition for "unlawful assembly" and new penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would broadly define an “unlawful assembly” as two or more people who meet “for the purpose of violating any of the criminal laws” of Missouri or the U.S. The bill also creates a new crime of “unlawful traffic interference” that encompasses walking, sitting, standing, lying down, or placing an object on any public roadway with the intention of impeding traffic. The bill provides that commission of “unlawful traffic interference” while participating in an “unlawful assembly” is a Class D felony, which is subject to up to seven years in prison. The bill was originally introduced on February 2, 2017 as HB 826. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 17 Jan 2018.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Missouri

SB 813: Heightened penalties for protesters who block highways

Would impose steeper penalties, including jail time, for protesters who block highways or emergency medical vehicles. The bill makes the offense of "peace disturbance" by obstructing traffic--already a Class B misdemeanor under Missouri law--a Class A misdemeanor on first offense if occurring on an interstate highway or thruway of an emergency medical services vehicle. Commission of the offense is subject to an automatic fine of up to $5,000 or 7-30 days in jail. The bill would also make offenders civilly liable to any person harmed, for monetary damages. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 3 Jan 2018.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Missouri

HB 1259: Heightened penalties for blocking traffic

Would criminalize protests that block traffic as "unlawful traffic interference" and provide for harsh penalties. Under the bill, a person's intentional blocking of traffic on a public street or highway, whether with her body or an object, is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the offense is repeated, or takes place on an interstate highway, it may be charged as a Class E felony. If the offense is committed while the person is part of an "unlawful assembly" (defined as "two or more persons who meet for the purpose of violating any of the criminal laws" of Missouri or the US), it is a Class D felony, punishable by up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 1 Dec 2017.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Missouri

HB 179: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would criminalize intentionally concealing one’s identity while participating in an “unlawful assembly” or rioting. Under the bill, a person who intentionally conceals his or her identity “by the means of a robe, mask, or other disguise” while engaged in an unlawful assembly could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. The bill exempts identity-concealing coverings for the purposes of religion, safety, or medical needs. The Missouri legislature’s website indicates that wearing a “hood” would also be included in criminalized coverings, although this language does not appear in the current wording of the bill. The bill expired with the end of the 2017 legislative session. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 4 Jan 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings

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New Jersey

AB 2853: Expanded definition of "riot"

Would expand the definition of "riot" to apply to individuals in a group whose disorderly conduct results in property damage. Under the bill, anyone who participates in “disorderly conduct” in a group of four or more may be charged with rioting, if anyone in the group causes any damage to property or other monetary loss. “Disorderly conduct” is broadly defined under New Jersey law, to include any “tumultuous behavior” that causes public annoyance—even swearing loudly. If the damage caused by anyone in the group costs $2,000 or more, anyone in the group can be charged with a third-degree crime, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $15,000. According to the bill, individuals convicted under the riot provisions related to property damage must also reimburse the property owner or State of New Jersey for the damages or loss incurred. The same bill was initially introduced in May 2017 as AB 4777. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 1 Feb 2018.

Issue(s): damage costs, riot

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New Jersey

AB 4777: Expanded definition of "riot"

Would expand the definition of "riot" to include group conduct that damages property. Under the bill, an individual's participation in "disorderly conduct" with four or more people that results in property damage or monetary loss would constitute a riot. The bill provides that, if such damage or loss is greater than $2,000, the offense is a third-degree crime, punishable by three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Further, the bill would require that an individual convicted of riot under the new provision would have to reimburse the individual property owner or the state of New Jersey for damages incurred as a result of the riot. The bill expired with the end of the 2017 legislative session. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 11 May 2017.

Issue(s): damage costs, riot

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North Carolina

HB 330: Eliminating driver liability for hitting protesters

Would eliminate civil liability for the driver of an automobile who hits or otherwise injures a person participating in a protest or demonstration, if the person was blocking traffic in a public street or highway and did not have a permit to do so, and if the driver was exercising “due care.” Civil liability is still available to the injured party if the driver acted intentionally. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 13 Mar 2017; Approved by House 27 April

Issue(s): driver immunity

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North Carolina

SB 229: Heightened penalties for threats against former officials

Would substantially increase penalties for threats and assaults against former North Carolina officials on account of the official’s performance. The bill extends by one year the term of office of former executive, legislative, and court officials for the purpose of criminal provisions related to assaults and threats made against officials that are in office. Accordingly, threatening to inflict serious injury on a former official would be classified as a Class I felony – rather than a misdemeanor – for a period of one year after the official’s term in office. The offense would be subject to up to two years in prison. The bill was sponsored by State Senator Dan Bishop, who had pledged to introduce such legislation after an incident over Inauguration weekend in which protesters shouted at a former North Carolina governor, Pat McCrory, in Washington, D.C. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Mar 2017.

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North Carolina

HB 249: Criminalizing certain protests as “economic terrorism”

Would have targeted protests that obstruct roadways by newly criminalizing “economic terrorism,” defined as the willful or reckless commission of a criminal offense that impedes or disrupts the regular course of business and results in damages of over $1,000. Per the bill, commission of economic terrorism is a Class H felony, punishable by 4 to 25 months in prison. The bill also makes an individual participant civilly liable for the costs incurred by the state in responding to an unlawful assembly, riot, or obstruction of traffic (e.g., during a protest); the individual could be charged in a civil action for related legal, administrative, and court costs as well. Criminal penalties are heightened for individuals who obstruct traffic by standing, sitting, or lying in a street or highway, as well as for those who remain at the scene of a riot or unlawful assembly after being warned to disperse; under the bill, both are punishable by up to 150 days in jail and a discretionary fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Mar 2017; Failed in committee 25 April 2017

Issue(s): security costs, terrorism, traffic interference

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North Dakota

SB 2044: Heightened penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Enhances potential penalties on individuals who protest near existing and planned gas and oil pipelines by criminalizing acts that interrupt or interfere with criminal infrastructure facilities. In addition to prohibiting actual tampering with critical infrastructure property and equipment, the bill prohibits “interfering, inhibiting, impeding, or preventing the construction or repair” of a criminal infrastructure facility. Further, the bill expands the definition of “critical infrastructure facility” to include a “site or location designated or approved for the construction of a facility” such as an oil or gas pipeline. Intentional interruption of a criminal infrastructure facility, including by interfering with pipeline construction, would be a Class C felony under the bill, subject to a penalty of five years' imprisonment, a fine of $10,000, or both. The bill also creates organizational liability for such acts: An organization found to have “conspired” with an individual who committed the interference could be criminally liable for ten times the fee imposed on the individual, or up to $100,000. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 3 Jan 2019; Approved by Senate 15 Feb 2019; Approved by House 25 March 2019; Signed by Governor Burgum 10 April 2019

Issue(s): infrastructure

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North Dakota

EXECUTIVE ORDER 2017-01: Mandatory evacuation of Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp

Orders the emergency evacuation of the Oceti Sakowin protest camp where opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline had been camped for several months. The order cites safety concerns as well as potential environmental damage due to “the presence of accumulated waste, abandoned vehicles and unlawful temporary and permanent dwelling structures in this flood-prone area” as grounds for the eviction. Under the order, all persons “occupying or residing in the evacuation area” had one week to leave. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 15 Feb 2017; Issued 15 Feb 2017

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North Dakota

HB 1426: Heightened penalties for riot offences

Increases the penalties imposed for riot offenses. Under the law, participation in a riot is a Class A rather than Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $3,000 fine. Engaging in a riot involving more than 100 people is made a Class B felony, subject to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 16 Jan 2017; Governor Burgum signed the law on 23 Feb 2017

Issue(s): riot

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North Dakota

HB 1293: Expanded scope of criminal trespass

Expands the scope of criminal trespass activity under state law such that it could encompass protests, demonstrations, or other gatherings on private property, if notice against trespass is “clear from the circumstances.” The offense could be punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. The law also creates an additional, noncriminal trespass offense and allows officers to issue a citation with a $250 fine for trespassing. Governor Burgum signed the law on February 23, 2017. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 12 Jan 2017; Signed into law 23 Feb 2017

Issue(s): trespass

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North Dakota

HB 1304: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Prohibits the wearing of masks, hoods, or other device that “conceals any portion” of an individual’s face while committing a criminal offense, in order to avoid recognition or identification. As drafted, the offense could encompass, e.g., individuals wearing hooded clothing while participating in a protest and also committing a minor offense such as jaywalking. Under the law, commission of the offense comprises a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 12 Jan 2017; Governor Burgum signed it 23 Feb 2017

Issue(s): face coverings

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North Dakota

HB 1203: Eliminating driver liability for hitting protesters

Would have eliminated the liability of a motorist who causes “injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway,” as long as the motorist did so unintentionally. Under the bill, such a motorist would not be liable for any damages nor guilty of an offense. Accordingly, the bill would allow motorists to strike and even kill protesters without liability as long as the collision was negligent or accidental. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 16 Jan 2017; Failed in House on 13 Feb 2017

Issue(s): driver immunity, traffic interference

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Ohio

SB 33: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Would heighten the penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure by expanding the definitions of "criminal trespass" and "criminal mischief." Like SB 250, introduced in the 2017-2018 session, SB 33 provides that entering and remaining on marked or fenced-off property that contains a "critical infrastructure facility" is criminal trespass and a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Doing so with the purpose of "tampering with" the facility would constitute aggravated trespass, a third degree felony--punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Knowingly, "improperly tampering" with the facility would constitute "criminal mischief," likewise a third degree felony. "Critical infrastructure facility" is expansively defined to encompass oil, gas, electric, water, telecommunications, and railroad facilities among many others. The bill also imposes fines on organizations found guilty of "complicity" in the trespass or mischief offenses, in the amount of ten times the maximum fine that can be imposed on an individual. Ohio law defines "complicity" to include soliciting, procuring, aiding, abetting, or conspiring with another to commit an offense. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 12 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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Ohio

SB 250: New penalties for protests near "critical infrastructure"

Would heighten the penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure by expanding the definitions of "criminal trespass" and "criminal mischief." Entering and remaining on marked or fenced-off property that contains a "critical infrastructure facility" would be criminal trespass under the bill and could be charged as a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Doing so with the purpose of tampering with or harming the facility would constitute aggravated trespass, a third degree felony; knowingly tampering with the facility would constitute "criminal mischief" and a first degree felony--punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $20,000 fine. "Critical infrastructure facility" is expansively defined to encompass oil, gas, electric, water, telecommunications, and railroad facilities among many others. The bill also imposes fines on organizations found to be complicit in the trespass or mischief offenses, and imposes civil liability for damage caused by trespass on a critical infrastructure facility. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 24 Jan 2018; Approved by Senate 6 December 2018

Issue(s): damage costs, infrastructure, trespass

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Ohio

HB 423: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would broadly prohibit the wearing of masks or other disguises in certain circumstances during protests. The bill criminalizes the wearing of a mask or disguise to intentionally "obstruct the execution of the law," "to intimidate, hinder, or interrupt" a person who is performing a legal duty, or to prevent a person from exercising rights granted to them by the Constitution or laws of Ohio (such as the right to assemble). Under the bill, commission of "masked intimidation" as defined by any of the above would be a first degree misdemeanor, subject to up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. According to its sponsors, the bill originated out of concerns about violent confrontations caused by masked protesters. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 21 Nov 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Oklahoma

HB 1123: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Targets protests around certain public facilities by creating a new criminal offense for trespass onto property containing “critical infrastructure.” The law’s extensive list of “critical infrastructure” facilities ranges from a petroleum refinery to a telephone pole. Willfully entering onto property containing critical infrastructure without permission is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 or six month in jail, or both. Evidence of intent to damage or otherwise harm the operations of the infrastructure facility would make the offence a felony, punishable by at least $10,000 (with no maximum provided) or imprisonment for one year, or both; actual damage or vandalizing of the facility is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Organizations found to have “conspired” with perpetrators are liable for up to $1,000,000. The sponsor of the law told a House of Representatives committee that it was prompted by the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 6 Feb 2017; Signed into law 3 May 2017

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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Oklahoma

HB 2128: Heightened penalties for protesters who trespass onto private property

Increases the potential penalties levied on individuals who protest on private property without permission. The law allows prosecutors to hold anyone arrested for or convicted of trespass liable for any damages to personal or real property caused while trespassing. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 6 Feb 2017; Governor Fallin signed into law 15 May 2017

Issue(s): trespass

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Oklahoma

SB 592: Steep fee for protesting at the state capitol

Would require any group of 100 or more people that engage in a protest at the Oklahoma capitol building to post a $50,000 bond to the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority "to offset the cost of additional security, cleanup and repairs." The bill was prefiled and is scheduled to be introduced on February 4, 2019, when the state's legislative session begins. The bill follows the walkout and multi-day protest by thousands of Oklahoma's teachers at the capitol in April 2018. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 18 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): damage costs, security costs, strikes

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Oregon

SB 540: Mandatory expulsion for college students convicted of rioting

Would require that public universities and community colleges expel a student who is convicted of participating in a riot. The bill expired with the end of the 2017 legislative session. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Jan 2017.

Issue(s): campus speech, riot

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Pennsylvania

SB 323: Charging protesters for the costs of responding to a protest

Would make individual protesters potentially liable for “public safety response costs” incurred by the state or a political subdivision during a protest or demonstration. Like SB 176, introduced in the 2017-2018 session, the bill allows local authorities to seek restitution from protesters convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in the course of a protest or demonstration, in order to pay for the costs of responding to the event. Such costs could include outlays for police, fire department, and medical services, as well as “related legal, administrative, and court expenses.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 22 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): security costs

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Pennsylvania

SB 754: Charging protesters for the costs of responding to a protest

Would make individual protesters potentially liable for “public safety response costs” incurred by the state or “political subdivision” during a protest or rally. The bill allows local authorities to seek restitution from protesters convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in the course of a protest or demonstration, in order to pay for the costs of responding to the event. Such costs could include overtime for police officers and emergency medical services, as well as “related legal, administrative, and court expenses.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 16 Aug 2017.

Issue(s): security costs

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Pennsylvania

SB 652: Heightened penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Would heighten potential penalties for protests around critical infrastructure such as gas and oil pipelines by providing for the crime of "criminal trespass” onto a critical infrastructure facility. Under the bill, it is a felony to enter a critical infrastructure facility "with the intent to willfully damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, tamper with equipment or impede or inhibit the operations of the facility." The bill broadly defines “critical infrastructure facility” to include natural gas facilities and pipelines, "whether constructed or under construction," as well as "equipment and machinery, regardless of location, to the extent that it is used to construct, maintain, or operate a critical infrastructure facility." Other facilities considered critical infrastructure include cell phone towers, telephone poles, and railroad tracks that are fenced off or posted as no-entry areas. Under the bill, entering such an area with the intent to cause damage or disruption is a second-degree felony. An individual who "conspires" to do so commits a first-degree felony.

The bill was substantially amended on 25 September 2018, including to significantly expand the definition of "critical infrastructure facility." (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 25 Apr 2017; Approved by Senate 23 May 2018

Issue(s): infrastructure, trespass

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Rhode Island

HB 5690: Eliminating driver liability for hitting protesters

Would eliminate civil liability for the driver of an automobile who hits or otherwise injures a person participating in a protest or demonstration, if the protest or demonstration was blocking traffic and the driver was exercising “due care.” Civil liability remains if the driver’s actions were intentional. The bill expired with the end of the 2017 legislative session. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 1 Mar 2017.

Issue(s): driver immunity, traffic interference

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South Carolina

SB 33: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill requires public universities and community colleges to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction any “[p]rotests and demonstrations that materially and substantially infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity” on campus. Additionally, the bill requires administrators to suspend for at least one year or expel any student who is twice “found responsible for infringing on the expressive rights of others,” such as through a protest of a campus speaker. The bill also waives South Carolina's immunity from federal lawsuits related to the law, such that a speaker or student group who feels the law is insufficiently enforced could sue the state and/or university in federal or state court. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 8 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): campus speech

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South Dakota

SB 189: Expanded civil liability for protesters and protest funders

Creates a broad new category of civil liability for “riot boosters,” and establishes a fund to collect money recovered from “rioters” and “riot boosters” in civil lawsuits. Governor Kristi Noem indicated that the bill would allow the state to “go after… funders” of disruptive protests related to the construction of pipelines, as well as the money that supports such protests, and “cut it off at the source.” SB 189 would newly define a “riot booster” to include (among other things) a person or organization that does not participate in a riot themselves but who “directs, advises, encourages, or solicits other persons participating in the riot to acts of force or violence.” It is unclear what might constitute encouragement or advice to carry out an act of force, such that an individual who shouts encouragement on the sidelines of a disruptive protest, or organizations that provide advice about how to conduct a protest that is peaceful but disruptive, might be implicated. The bill also provides that a person or organization is liable for “riot boosting” if they engage in it personally “or through any employee, agent, or subsidiary.” The bill would make anyone or organization convicted of “riot boosting” liable for extensive civil damages to the state or a third party, including punitive damages—regardless of the individual or organization’s actual culpability in costs incurred. The bill would also create a cause of action against those who fund persons who commit unlawful acts during a riot. However, the relevant provision is unclear and could be used to hold funders liable even when they did not know the person they funded was going to commit an unlawful act. Accordingly, individuals, organizations, and funders could be held liable for substantial amounts of money for any involvement in a disruptive protest. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 4 Mar 2019; Approved by Senate 7 March 2019; Approved by House 7 March 2019; Signed by Governor Noem 27 March 2019

Issue(s): damage costs, conspiracy, infrastructure, riot

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South Dakota

SB 176: Expanding governor’s power to restrict certain protests

Expands the governor’s authority to curtail protest activities on public lands and restricts protests that interfere with highway traffic. The law enables the governor and sheriff to prohibit gatherings of 20 or more people on public land, if the gathering might damage the land or interfere with the renter’s use of the land. The law enables South Dakota’s Department of Transportation to prohibit or otherwise restrict an individual or vehicle from stopping, standing, parking, or being present on any highway if it interferes with traffic. The law also expands the crime of trespass, providing that an individual who defies a posted order not to enter a zone where assembling has been prohibited would be guilty of criminal trespass. Obstructing traffic or committing criminal trespass are classified as Class 1 misdemeanors, punishable by one year in jail or a $2,000 fine, or both. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 3 Mar 2017; Governor Daugaard signed into law 14 March 2017

Issue(s): traffic interference, trespass

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Tennessee

SB 0902: New penalties for protesters who block traffic

Imposes a new fine on any person who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly obstructs a public highway or street – including in the course of a protest – and in doing so interferes with an emergency vehicle’s access to or through the highway or street. “Emergency vehicle” is broadly defined as “any vehicle of a governmental department or public service corporation when responding to an emergency,” a police or fire department vehicle, or an ambulance. Unlawful obstruction of a street or highway was already a Class C misdemeanor subject to up to 30 days in jail; the law adds a $200 fine to the penalty. Sponsors made clear that the law was aimed at protests that obstructed highways. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 9 Feb 2017; Governor Haslam signed into law 12 April 2017

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Tennessee

SB 264: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would create new penalties for protests and demonstrations that "interrupt" or "interfere with" a pipeline or pipeline construction site. The bill would make it a Class E felony for an individual or organization to knowingly "injure, remove, destroy, break down, or otherwise interrupt or interfere with" a pipeline, pipeline facility, or related equipment, including if it is under construction. Under the bill, an individual or organization that causes or “aids” that damage or interference would likewise be guilty of a Class E felony. Both offenses would be punishable by up to six years in prison and a $3,000 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 29 Jan 2019; Approved by Senate 18 Feb 2019

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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Tennessee

HB 0668/SB 0944: Eliminating driver liability for hitting protesters

Would have provided civil immunity for a motorist who injures a protester who was blocking traffic in a public right-of-way if the driver was exercising “due care.” The bill, introduced in both the Tennessee House of Representatives and Senate, does not eliminate liability if the driver’s actions were “willful or wanton.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Feb 2017; Failed in committee 22 March 2017

Issue(s): driver immunity, traffic interference

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Texas

SB 2229: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Would revise criminal trespass and mischief law in Texas such that individuals and organizations involved in protests on infrastructure sites could be subject to harsh new penalties. The bill would create a new offense of trespass on critical infrastructure “with the intent to either damage, destroy, deface or tamper with” or the intent to “impede or inhibit the operations” of a facility. Accordingly, protesters who sought to peacefully demonstrate on a posted infrastructure facility such as a pipeline, with the intent to disrupt its operations, could be prosecuted. The offense would be a state jail felony punishable by one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The bill would also newly criminalize critical infrastructure mischief, defined to include defacing an infrastructure facility, and make it a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Under the bill, an organization found guilty of either offense would be subject to a fine of ten times the maximum fine imposed on an individual--i.e., $100,000 for trespass, and $1,000,000 for mischief. The bill would expand the current definition of “critical infrastructure” under Texas law to include not only facilities that are completely enclosed by fencing but also property that is posted with signs that are "reasonably likely" to be seen. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 8 Mar 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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Texas

SB 1993: New criminal and civil penalties for protests around critical infrastructure

Would create harsh new criminal sanctions and expansive civil liability for protests near pipelines and other infrastructure facilities, including those under construction. The bill provides for two new offenses: "damage to critical infrastructure," defined to include actual damage or "intentionally or knowingly impeding, inhibiting, or interfering with the operation of" an infrastructure facility. This provision could target protests that, e.g., peacefully hinder access to pipelines or pipeline construction sites. Under the bill, “damage to critical infrastructure” is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A second offense, "intent to damage critical infrastructure," is defined as entering onto infrastructure facility with intent to commit "damage," as defined above. This provision could capture peaceful protests that take place near a pipeline or other infrastructure facility regardless of whether they actually impede, inhibit, or interfere with the facility. The offense of “intent to damage critical infrastructure” is a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. The bill would make an organization that is found guilty of damage to or intent to damage critical infrastructure subject to a $1,000,000 fine. The bill creates new civil and vicarious liability for individuals and organizations related to the criminal offenses, as well. A defendant who engages in either damage or intent to damage critical infrastructure is civilly liable to the property owner, as is an organization that “compensates" a person for engaging in damage or intent to damage critical infrastructure. For both individuals and organizations, the property owner may sue for and claim actual damages, court costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, and exemplary damages. The bill expands the definition of "critical infrastructure facility" to include a "facility that is being constructed and all of the equipment and appurtenances used during that construction." (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 7 Mar 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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Texas

HB 250: Eliminating driver liability for hitting protesters

Would eliminate civil liability for the driver of an automobile who hits or otherwise injures a person who was participating in a protest or demonstration that blocked traffic, if the driver was exercising “due care.” The driver may still be civilly liable if his action was grossly negligent. Bill 250 expired with the end of the 2017 legislative session. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 20 Jul 2017.

Issue(s): driver immunity, traffic interference

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Virginia

Executive Order No. 15: State of emergency in preparation for Charlottesville anniversary

The order declared a temporary state of emergency in Virginia and deployed military force in order to prepare for “events, rallies, and protests” planned in Charlottesville on the one-year anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally. The state of emergency order activated the Virginia National Guard and directed it to assist state police in carrying out “all acts necessary” in order “to ensure crowd control, direct traffic, prevent looting, and perform… other law enforcement functions.” The order endowed Army and Air National Guard personnel with the power to arrest individuals in order to enforce the law—including, specifically, “all violations of Section 18.2, Chapter 9, Articles 1 and 2 of the Code of Virginia (Crimes Against Peace and Order; Riot and Unlawful Assembly; Disorderly Conduct).” The order further provided that neither state police, National Guard personnel, nor any other emergency service providers could be held liable for any death or personal injury “proximately caused by the circumstances of this emergency.” Deployment of militarized or otherwise disproportionate force in response to protests—particularly if coupled with immunity for injuries those forces commit—is likely to chill constitutionally-protected protest activity. Governor Ralph Northam signed the order on August 8, 2018, and declared the state of emergency to be in effect until September 12, 2018. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 8 Aug 2018.

Issue(s): police response, state of emergency

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Virginia

Executive Order No. 67: Temporary ban on protests near General Lee monument

Temporarily bans protests at the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia. The order directs a suspension of all permits for demonstrations, processions, picketing, and “all other like forms of conduct,” as well as the display of any flags, banners, or other “demonstratives.” The order cites the violence that erupted during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017, and notes that activities surrounding Confederate monuments in Virginia including the Lee Monument “raise substantial public safety concerns.” The order mandates Virginia’s Department of General Services to issue regulations to govern any public use of the Lee Monument by November 18, 2017, and halts the issuance of demonstration permits until such regulations are issued. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 18 Aug 2017; Effective until 18 Nov 2017

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Virginia

Executive Order No. 66: State of emergency due to protests in Charlottesville

Declares a temporary state of emergency in Virginia “due to civil unrest leading up to, resulting from, and subsequent to the Unite the Right rally and counter-protests in the City of Charlottesville.” Among other things, the state of emergency activated the Virginia National Guard to assist in responding to the violence associated with the white nationalist demonstrations, and allowed state agencies to take extraordinary measures to deal with the emergency. Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the order on August 12, 2017, and declared the state of emergency to be in effect for five days, until August 17. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 12 Aug 2017; Effective until 17 Aug 2017

Issue(s): state of emergency

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Virginia

HB 1601: Banning protests by members of domestic terrorist groups

Would newly define and designate “domestic terrorist organizations,” and bar their members from assembling in groups of three or more. The bill broadly defines an “act of domestic terrorism,” in part echoing the state’s definition of a hate crime. The bill would provide for state authorities to designate as a "domestic terrorist organization" an identifiable group that aims to commit an act of domestic terrorism or whose members individually or collectively have attempted to commit an act of domestic terrorism. According to the bill, members of a designated domestic terrorist organization are prohibited from assembling in groups of three or more persons. The bill provides that such an assembly is unlawful, and any individual who participates in such an “unlawful assembly” (whether a member or not) could be charged with a Class I misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. If an individual carries a firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon while participating in such an “unlawful assembly” of domestic terrorist group members, they are subject to a Class 5 felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, which helped draft the bill, indicated that it was prompted by the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville on August 12. Critics of the bill have noted that the broad language of the bill could allow authorities to target minority communities who have “unpopular beliefs.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 19 Jan 2018.

Issue(s): terrorism

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Virginia

HB 1791: Expanded definition of “incitement to riot”

Would have expanded the definition of “incitement to riot” and heightened penalties for encouraging others to produce a riot against a law-enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel. Under the bill, encouraging others to engage in a peaceful protest that results in acts of force or violence against such officers or personnel is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Jan 2017; Approved by House 26 Jan 2017; Approved by Senate 13 Feb 2017; Vetoed by Governor McAuliffe 28 April 2017

Issue(s): riot

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Virginia

SB 1055: Heightened penalties for participation in an “unlawful assembly”

Would have broadened the scope of the state’s anti-protesting laws. The bill would increase penalties for people who engage in an “unlawful assembly” after “having been lawfully warned to disperse,” elevating the act from a Class 3 misdemeanor, which carries only a maximum $500 fine, to a Class 1 misdemeanor, which could be subject to up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 6 Jan 2017; Failed in Senate on 23 Jan 2017

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Washington

SB 5941: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would prohibit a person from “wearing a mask, hood, or device where any portion of the face is covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer” when they are on public or state-owned property – including, e.g., during a protest. Under the bill, commission of this offense is punishable as a gross misdemeanor. State Senator Jim Honeyford said he sponsored this bill in response to vandalism and violence that he believes occurs “under the guise of political speech,” that threatens citizens’ “safety and welfare.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 22 May 2017; reintroduced 8 January, 2018.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Washington

SB 5009: Heightened penalties for protests that block traffic and interfere with "economic activities"

Would target protests that disrupt roadways, railroads, and other “legally permitted economic activities.” The bill heightens penalties for illegal actions that aim to create economic harm by impeding legally-permitted economic activities. According to the bill, if a court finds that the perpetrator of another offense intended to cause economic disruption, his or her sentence can be extended 60 days for a misdemeanor, six months for a gross misdemeanor, and 12 months for a felony. The bill provides that those who fund or sponsor such actions can be charged as accomplices. The state senator who sponsored the bill indicated in November 2016 that it was drafted to respond to protests aimed at disrupting economic activities, which he deemed tantamount to “economic terrorism.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 15 Dec 2016; reintroduced 8 January, 2018.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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West Virginia

HB 4618: Eliminating police liability for deaths while dispersing riots and unlawful assemblies

Reaffirms West Virginia's problematic law on rioting, and adds the West Virginia Capitol Police to those authorities who cannot be held liable for the deaths and wounding of individuals in the course of dispersing riots and unlawful assemblies. Under prior West Virginia law, the State Police, sheriffs, and mayors had authority to use means such as curfews and warrantless searches to disperse riots and unlawful assemblies; the law reaffirms and extends this authority to the Capitol Police. According to the law, if a bystander is asked to assist in the dispersal and fails to do so, he or she "shall be deemed a rioter." The law also adds Capitol Police to existing provisions eliminating liability if anyone present, "as spectator or otherwise, be killed or wounded," while the authorities used "any means" to disperse riots or unlawful assemblies or arrest those involved. The law was passed during a statewide strike by West Virginia teachers, thousands of whom protested in February 2018 at the State Capitol. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 13 Feb 2018; Approved by House 22 February 2018; Approved by Senate 8 March 2018; Signed by Governor Justice 10 March 2018

Issue(s): police response, riot, strikes

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Wisconsin

AB 395/SB 303: Expanded definition of "riot"

As originally introduced, Assembly Bill 395 would have newly defined a “riot” under Wisconsin law and provided for heavy criminal penalties for participants in a riot. The introduced bill broadly defined “riot” as a “public disturbance” including an act or threat of violence among an assembly of three or more people that “constitutes a clear and present danger” of damage to persons or property. Accordingly, under the introduced bill, individuals in a gathering where a violent or destructive incident took place could be charged with participation in a riot, classified as a Class I felony punishable by three and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The bill was amended in late 2017, revising and narrowing the offense of "participation in a riot" to require individual intent: Under the amended bill, it is a Class I felony to "intentionally" commit or threaten to commit an act of violence that "constitutes a clear and present danger" of damage to persons or property, while engaging in a "public disturbance" with at least three people. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 19 Jun 2017.

Issue(s): riot

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Wisconsin

AB 396/SB 304: New penalties for blocking traffic during a riot

Would create a new criminal offense of blocking a public or private thoroughfare or access to a private or public building while participating in a riot (as defined and penalized in AB 395). The bill was amended in late 2017 to add elements of individual intent; under the amended version, it is a Class H felony to "intentionally" commit or threaten to commit an act of violence that "constitutes a clear and present danger" of damage to persons or property, while blocking a thoroughfare or access point as part of a "public disturbance" with at least three people. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 19 Jun 2017.

Issue(s): riot, traffic interference

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Wisconsin

AB 397/SB 305: New penalties for carrying a weapon during a riot

Would impose new penalties for participation in a riot (as defined and penalized in AB 395) while carrying a dangerous weapon. Doing so is classified as a Class G felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The bill was amended in late 2017 to add elements of individual intent: Under the revised bill, it is a Class G felony to "knowingly use a dangerous weapon" and "intentionally" commit or threaten to commit an act of violence that "constitutes a clear and present danger" of damage to persons or property, while engaging in a "public disturbance" with at least three people. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 19 Jun 2017.

Issue(s): riot, weapons

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Wisconsin

AB 299: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would impose mandatory disciplinary measures on student protesters in certain cases. The bill requires that students who engage in “violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, obscene, unreasonably loud, or other disorderly conduct that interferes with the free expression of others” on Wisconsin college or university campuses be compelled to attend a mandatory disciplinary hearing. The bill also requires campus authorities to suspend for a minimum of one semester or expel a student who interferes more than once with another’s free speech, for instance by protesting a controversial campus speaker. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 5 May 2017; Approved by Assembly 21 June 2017

Issue(s): campus speech

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Wyoming

HB 10: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Would heighten potential penalties for protests near oil pipelines and other infrastructure facilities, including those under construction. The bill creates the offense of "critical infrastructure trespass," defined as entering or remaining on a critical infrastructure facility or the construction site of such a facility, while aware or on notice that presence is not authorized. Under the bill, critical infrastructure trespass is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. The bill also creates the offense of “impeding critical infrastructure,” defined as intentionally impeding the operations of or access to an infrastructure facility or facility construction site, or tampering with or damaging facility equipment. A person who impedes critical infrastructure, e.g. by blocking the entrance to a pipeline construction site during a protest, may be charged with a felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison and $10,000 if the impediment results in over $1,000 in damage or lost profits. The bill also provides that an organization that "aids, abets, solicits, compensates, hires, conspires with, commands or procures" a person to commit the crime of impeding critical infrastructure is liable to a fine of up to $100,000 and civic damages to the infrastructure facility for lost profits. "Critical infrastructure facility" is broadly defined and among many other things includes oil and gas pipelines, refineries, water treatment plants, airports, and railroad tracks - or the construction sites thereof. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 14 Dec 2018; House consideration denied 4 February 2019

Issue(s): infrastructure, trespass

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Wyoming

HB 0137: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college campuses. The bill requires the University of Wyoming and community colleges to adopt a "free speech protection policy" that includes the mandatory suspension for at least one year or expulsion of any student who is twice found responsible for "infringing upon the expressive rights of others." The bill also calls for a "range of disciplinary sanctions" to be imposed on anyone under the university's jurisdiction who "materially and substantially interferes with the free expression of others." (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 12 Feb 2018; Failed in House 16 Feb

Issue(s): campus speech

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Wyoming

SF 0074: New penalties for protests near "critical infrastructure"

Would raise potential penalties for protests near oil pipelines and other facilities by providing for the offense of "critical infrastructure trespass." The offense is defined as entering or remaining on a "critical infrastructure facility" while aware or on notice that presence is not authorized. Under the bill, critical infrastructure trespass is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. If a person trespasses with the intent to impede the facility's operations, or damage, deface, or tamper with facility equipment, the offense is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The bill also provides that an organization that "aids, abets, solicits, encourages, compensates, conspires, commands or procures" a person to commit felonious infrastructure trespass is liable to a fine of up to $1 million. "Critical infrastructure facility" is broadly defined and among many other things includes oil and gas pipelines, refineries, water treatment plants, railroad tracks, and telephone poles. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 7 Feb 2018; Approved by Senate 27 Feb 2018; Approved by House 10 March 2018; Vetoed by Governor Mead 14 March 2018

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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For more information about the Tracker, contact Elly Page at EPage@icnl.org.