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 peaceful assembly. For information about our methodology, click here.

45 states have
considered
202 bills
26 enacted 64 pending

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation and executive orders

Latest updates: Mar. 4, 2021 (Arizona, Montana), Mar. 1, 2021 (Utah), Feb. 26, 2021 (Missouri)
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214 entries found matching the provided filters.
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 8117: Stripping Pandemic Aid from Individuals Convicted of “Protest-Related” Federal Crimes

Would withdraw COVID-19 unemployment benefits from and impose new costs on anyone convicted of a federal offense “related to the individual’s conduct at and during a protest.” Such a person would be ineligible for federal unemployment aid under the CARES Act (15 U.S.C. 9023) “or any other Federal supplemental unemployment compensation during the COVID–19 public health emergency.” If federal agents were involved in policing the protest at issue, the person who was convicted of a related federal offense would also have to pay the cost of the agents’ policing activity, “as determined by the court.” Federal offenses include both violations of federal law, and violations of state law that occur on federal property. As such, the bill’s withdrawal of benefits and imposition of new costs could apply to, e.g., a peaceful protester convicted of misdemeanor trespass for refusing to leave a demonstration on the steps of a federal courthouse or a sit-in at a congressional office. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 28 Aug 2020.

Issue(s): security costs, limit on public benefits

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US Federal

S 4424: Withhold Federal Funding for Failure to Prosecute Destructive Protest Activities

Would empower the U.S. Attorney General to withhold up to 10% of select federal funding from a state prosecutor's office, district attorney's office, or state attorney general office, if the U.S. Attorney General determines that the office has "abused the use of prosecutorial discretion by failing to prosecute crimes stemming from riots or other violent or destructive protest activities." Many riot statutes in the U.S. are broadly worded and can encompass non-violent protest activity. In the past, peaceful protesters have been prosecuted under these statutes. This bill could encourage an aggressive interpretation of riot statutes as well as other laws that could be used against peaceful demonstrators. On September 17, 2020, HR 8301 was introduced in the House of Representatives, which has nearly identical language to S 4424. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 4 Aug 2020.

Issue(s): riot

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US Federal

S 4266: Withhold Federal Funding for Failure to Either Prosecute or Properly Police a Riot

Would empower the U.S. Attorney General to withhold select federal funding if the Attorney General determines that a state or local government has a "custom or policy" of not prosecuting an individual engaged in unlawful activity as part of a riot or if they decline to prosecute because the "unlawful activity is related to or associated with expression of speech protected by the First Amendment". The U.S. Attorney General can also withhold select federal funding if a senior official, governing body, or policy prohibits law enforcement from taking action that would prevent or mitigate physical injury or property depredation related to a riot. The U.S. Attorney General could withhold up to 25% of select federal funding or twice the monetary value of property damaged or physical injury caused by the failure of the state or local government to take "reasonable steps" to protect against damage and injury. The bill also would create liability for "a person with the lawful authority to direct a law enforcement agency" to prohibit law enforcement from taking action that would prevent or materially mitigate significant injury or property destruction related to a riot. The bill defines riot using the broad federal definition of riot. Such broadly worded riot provisions have been used to prosecute peaceful protesters in the past. This bill may pressure law enforcement to police assemblies aggressively to ensure that their policing practices are not second guessed by the federal government resulting in loss of funding or because doing otherwise might open them up to civil litigation. The bill could also lead to the aggressive interpretation of riot statutes against peaceful protesters by prosecutors so as not to risk losing federal funding. A companion bill HR 7786 has been introduced in the House. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 22 Jul 2020.

Issue(s): damage costs, police response, riot, state liability

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US Federal

DOT Legislative Proposal: New federal criminal penalties for protests near pipelines

In its proposed congressional reauthorization of pipeline safety programs, the Department of Transportation included expanded criminal penalties that could be applied to protests near gas and oil pipelines. The proposal would newly criminalize under federal law "vandalizing, tampering with, impeding the operation of, disrupting the operation of, or inhibiting the operation of" a pipeline or a pipeline construction site. The offense would be punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and/or a steep fine: up to $250,000 for an individual, or $500,000 for an organization. Any "attempt" or "conspiracy" to commit the offense would likewise be subject to a 20-year prison sentence. Accordingly, individuals as well as organizations that participate in a protest or engage in the planning of a protest deemed to "inhibit" a pipeline construction site could face lengthy prison sentences and/or steep fines. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 3 Jun 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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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 445: Expanded definition of "riot," "incitement to riot," and new penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would redefine “riot” under Alabama law as a “tumultuous disturbance” in public by five or more assembled people, acting with common intent, that creates a “grave danger” of substantial property damage or serious injury or that “substantially obstructs” a government function. This definition is broad enough to cover loud but peaceful protests, as well as raucous tailgate parties. Current Alabama law, by contrast, requires that a person individually engage in “violent conduct” as part of a group in order to have committed “riot.” Knowingly participating in a “riot” is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a $6,000 fine. The bill provides that if any property damage or injuries occur, then anyone participating in the group is guilty of “aggravated riot,” a new Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The bill expands the current definition of “incitement to riot” under Alabama law to include a person who “funds” or “otherwise aids or abets” another person to engage in a “riot.” Given the bill’s broad definition of “riot,” the redefined definition of “incitement” could cover people only tangentially associated with a protest, such as individuals who hand out bottles of water to protesters. The bill creates a rebuttable presumption against granting bail to anyone charged with “riot” or “aggravated riot;” it also adds mandatory minimum prison sentences for “riot,” “aggravated riot,” and “incitement to riot,” and requires that anyone convicted pay restitution for any property damage incurred by the “riot.” The bill creates a new offense of unlawful traffic interference for anyone who, with the intent to impede traffic, walks, sits, or lies to block passage of a vehicle on a public or interstate highway. The first offense is a Class A misdemeanor and a second offence (or if property is damaged or someone is injured) is a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 24 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, conspiracy, riot, traffic interference

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Alabama

SB 155: New justification for using deadly force near a "riot"

Would expand the instances in which a person may lawfully use deadly force, to include areas near a "riot." Under current Alabama law, a person may use deadly force on their property if they reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent someone from trespassing and either committing a violent act against the person, or arson. The bill would also allow a person to use deadly force to prevent trespass if there is an "active riot" within 500 feet of the premises and the person reasonably believes it is necessary to use such force to prevent criminal mischief or burglary. If enacted, the bill would increase the likelihood of violence if residents or business owners become alarmed by raucous but peaceful protests. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 2 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): riot, trespass, stand your ground

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Alabama

HB 133: Expanded definition of “riot” and “incitement to riot,” and new penalties for protesters who deface monuments

Would redefine “riot” under Alabama law as a “tumultuous disturbance” in public by five or more assembled people, acting with common intent, that creates a “grave danger” of substantial property damage or serious injury or that “substantially obstructs” a government function. This definition is broad enough to cover loud but peaceful protests, as well as raucous tailgate parties. Current Alabama law, by contrast, requires that a person individually engage in “violent conduct” as part of a group in order to have committed “riot.” Knowingly participating in a “riot” is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a $6,000 fine. The bill provides that if any property damage or injuries occur, then anyone participating in the group is guilty of “aggravated riot,” a new Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The bill expands the current definition of “incitement to riot” under Alabama law to include a person who “funds” or “otherwise aids or abets” another person to engage in a “riot.” Given the bill’s broad definition of “riot,” the redefined definition of “incitement” could cover people only tangentially associated with a protest, such as individuals who hand out bottles of water to protesters. The bill creates a rebuttable presumption against granting bail to anyone charged with “riot” or “aggravated riot;” it also adds mandatory minimum prison sentences for “riot,” “aggravated riot,” and “incitement to riot,” and requires that anyone convicted pay restitution for any property damage incurred by the “riot.” The bill would create a new Class D felony offense, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, for anyone who intentionally “mars, marks,” or “defaces” a public monument, even if the marks are only “temporary.” Doing so in the course of a “riot” or “unlawful assembly” would be a Class C felony. Under the bill, “riot,” “aggravated riot,” “incitement to riot,” and “damaging a public monument,” are all to be considered “violent offences” for the purpose of sentencing. Finally, the bill would disqualify anyone convicted of “riot,” “aggravated riot,” or “incitement to riot” from holding public office. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 26 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, riot

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Alabama

SB 45: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would amend existing state law to create new criminal penalties for conduct that may occur in the course of peaceful protests near oil or gas pipelines and other infrastructure facilities. Alabama already criminalizes trespass onto “critical infrastructure,” pursuant to law passed in 2016. The bill would expand the law's definition of “critical infrastructure” to include "pipelines," such that a person who trespasses onto pipeline property could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a $6,000 fine. The bill would also create a new felony offense for any person who "injures," "interrupts or interferes with" critical infrastructure while trespassing. Such an act would be a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $15,000. HB 36 has similar provisions in the House and was introduced January 23, 2020. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 4 Feb 2020; Approved by Senate 12 March 2020

Issue(s): infrastructure, trespass

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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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Alaska

HB 295: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters at the University of Alaska. The bill requires the University to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction any “protests or demonstrations that materially and substantially infringe on the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity.” Additionally, the bill requires administrators to suspend for at least one year or expel any student who is twice found “to have infringed on the expressive rights of another,” such as through a protest of a campus speaker. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 24 Feb 2020.

Issue(s): campus speech

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Arizona

SB 1784: Heightened penalties for “riot,” “unlawful assembly,” and protests that block traffic

Would elevate the offence of “riot” from a Class 5 to a Class 4 felony, punishable by three years in prison. Arizona defines “riot” broadly under existing law, to include joining two or more other people and recklessly using or threatening to use force that “disturbs the public peace.” The bill also increases the penalty for “interfering” with traffic on a public thoroughfare while engaged in an “unlawful assembly” or “riot.” The offense, which is otherwise a misdemeanor, would be a Class 6 felony punishable by up to two year in prison. Finally, the bill requires that anyone convicted of “unlawful assembly,” a Class 1 misdemeanor, pay “at least” $500 in fines. Arizona law defines “unlawful assembly” as joining a group of two or more people with intent to engage in conduct constituting “riot,” or being present at such a group, knowingly remaining, and refusing to disperse. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 3 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): riot, traffic interference

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Arizona

HB 2485: New Penalties for “Violent Or Disorderly Assembly” and for Protesters Who Block Traffic or "Deface" Monuments

Would create a broad new felony offense, “violent or disorderly assembly,” for any person who joins a group of six or more people knowing that the group has one of a number of objectives—these include creating “an immediate danger” of property damage or personal injury; “substantially obstructing” government services; or “disturbing any person in the enjoyment of a legal right”—if one person in the group then commits an “overt act” that furthers any of those objectives. The broad definition only requires action by one person in a protest; individuals could be charged with “violent or disorderly assembly” without doing anything other than gathering. The new offense is a Class 6 felony, punishable by one year in prison. The bill instates a mandatory, 12-hour detention for anyone arrested for the “violent or disorderly assembly,” and requires that anyone convicted of the offense be barred from receiving any public benefits—including welfare or scholarships—or employment by a state or local entity. The bill makes “obstructing” a street or highway a Class 6 felony if it occurs while committing “violent or disorderly assembly.” The bill would similarly heighten the penalty for unintentional property damage occurring during a protest, providing that “reckless” damage to property in the amount of $250-$1,000 is a Class 6 felony if it occurs while committing “violent or disorderly assembly.” Using fireworks, “defacing” a monument or other public memorial, or being “indecent” or “offensive to the senses,” are all elevated to a Class 6 felony if done while committing “violent or disorderly assembly.” The bill would also add “violent or disorderly assembly” to the underlying crimes for Arizona’s anti-racketeering statute. As a result, an participating in or being near a protest that is deemed a “violent or disorderly assembly” could lead to prosecution on felony racketeering charges. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 22 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): conspiracy, traffic interference, limit on public benefits

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Arizona

HB 2309: New penalties for “violent or disorderly assembly” and for protesters who block traffic or "deface" monuments

Would create a new felony offense, “violent or disorderly assembly,” for any person who causes any property damage or personal injury with a group of seven other people, with the intent to engage in a “riot” or an “unlawful assembly.” The new offense is a Class 6 felony, punishable by one year in jail. The bill instates a mandatory, 12-hour detention for anyone arrested for the “violent or disorderly assembly,” and requires that anyone convicted of the offense be barred from obtaining public benefits or employment by a state or local entity. The bill would heighten the penalty for protesters who “recklessly interfere” with traffic on any “public thoroughfare,” or who, after receiving a warning, intentionally interfere with and prevent access to a government meeting or political campaign event. The bill provides that such interference is a Class 6 felony if it occurs while committing “violent or disorderly assembly.” The bill would similarly heighten the penalty for unintentional property damage occurring during a protest, providing that “reckless” damage to property in the amount of $250-$1,000 is a Class 6 felony if it occurs while committing “violent or disorderly assembly.” Likewise, using fireworks, or “defacing” a monument or other public memorial are both elevated to a Class 6 felony if done while committing “violent or disorderly assembly.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 15 Jan 2021; Approved by House 3 March 2021

Issue(s): riot, traffic interference, limit on public benefits

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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

HB 1578: Expanded Civil Liability for Those Who Incite a Riot and Criminal Penalties for Obstructing First Responders

Creates a civil cause of action for a person who is injured or has property damaged as a "direct or indirect" result of a riot against a rioter or a person or entity who incites a riot. Under Arkansas law, both the riot and incitement to riot statute are broad, creating potential liability for protesters or organizations who are interpreted to have urged others to have engaged in tumultuous or violent conduct. The bill also makes it a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, to knowingly obstruct or interfere with a first responder in providing medical services, or a Class D felony, punishable by up to six years, if the same is done purposefully. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 17 Feb 2017; Passed by House 2 March 2017; Passed by Senate 27 March 2017; Signed by Governor 6 April 2017.

Issue(s): damage costs, police response, riot, traffic interference

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Arkansas

HB 1508: New penalties for protesters on state property and those who disturb official meetings

Would create a new offense of “unlawful possession of state property” that could apply to peaceful protesters. Under the bill, if a person occupies a building or grounds of any state institution, including public universities, after they have been told to leave by a security officer or authorized employee, it is a misdemeanor punishable by at least 30 days and up to 6 months in prison and a $1,000 fine. The bill creates a new mandatory minimum sentence for “rioting” of 30 days in jail and restitution for any injury or damage as a result of the offense. Rioting is defined in Alabama to include engaging with two or more persons in "tumultuous" conduct that creates a “substantial risk” of “public alarm.” The bill also requires that a person convicted of inciting a riot pay restitution for any injury or damage as a result of the offense. It increases the penalty of disrupting a lawful assembly, procession, or meeting of persons to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The bill also creates a presumption against releasing a person who has been arrested for obstructing a highway or public passage, rioting, aggravated rioting, or inciting a riot within 12 hours of their arrest. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 22 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, riot, traffic interference

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Arkansas

HB 1321: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would introduce harsh new penalties for protestors around gas and oil pipelines and other “critical infrastructure.” The bill broadly defines “critical infrastructure” to include a range of posted or fenced-off areas associated with natural gas and crude oil production, storage, and distribution, including above and belowground pipelines as well as pipeline construction sites and equipment. Under the bill, purposely entering or remaining on any “critical infrastructure” is a Class D felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Separately, the bill provides that trespassing on property outside of a city or town, regardless of whether it is posted, is a Class D felony if the property is “critical infrastructure.” In nearly all other cases, trespass is a misdemeanor or minor violation. The bill also creates a felony offense for anyone who purposely and unlawfully “causes damage” to critical infrastructure. Any amount of “damage”—which the law does not define—is a Class B felony under the law, punishable by 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. If the bill were enacted, protesters who hold a peaceful sit-in at a pipeline construction site and paint protest slogans on construction material, for instance, could face lengthy prison sentences. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 27 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): infrastructure, trespass

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Arkansas

HB 1898: Heightened penalties for protests that block roads

Would create the offense of “aggravated disorderly conduct,” defined to include “recklessly creating a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm” by “obstruct[ing] the free use of public roads, streets, highways, airports, or other rights-of-way of travel.” The offense would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 20 Mar 2019; Died on House Calendar at sine die adjournment 24 April 2019

Issue(s): traffic interference

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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: defeated / expired

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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California

AB 1358: New restrictions on campus protests

Would impose new limits on protests at public and private institutions of higher education. The bill would require all institutions of higher education in the state to adopt a policy prohibiting protests and demonstrations that “material and substantially infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity” and make protesters involved in such assemblies “subject to sanction.” As a result, protests in public areas of campus that, for instance, made it difficult to hear a speech, would be banned and its participants liable to penalties. This behavior would be subject to a “range of disciplinary sanctions,” including “suspensions, firings, and expulsions.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 22 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): campus speech

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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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Connecticut

HB 6455: New penalty for protests that disturb the legislature

Would make it a Class D felony, punishable by at least one and up to 5 years in prison a $5,000 fine, to disrupt, disturb, or interfere with any proceeding of the General Assembly by making unreasonable noise, performing an act that disturbs or disrupts the proceeding, refusing to comply with an order of the police, or engaging in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior or language. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 11 Feb 2021.

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Florida

SB 484/HB 1: Expanded definition of "riot" and new penalties for protesters

Would enlarge the legal definition of “riot,” a 3rd degree felony, to include any group of three or more individuals whose shared intent to engage in disorderly and violent conduct results in a “clear and present danger” of property damage or personal injury, or actual damage or injury. Notably, the new definition does not require that the individuals’ conduct be disorderly or violent, or that they commit any actual damage or injury. Under the bill, a “riot” consisting of ten or more people, or one that interferes with the movement of a vehicle, is automatically an “aggravated riot,” a new 2nd degree felony offense under the bill. As such, large groups of protesters or ones that block traffic, even temporarily, could face up to 15 years in prison. Under the bill, “incitement” or “encouragement” of a riot is a 3rd degree felony, punishable by 5 years in prison. The bill also creates a new criminal offense of “mob intimidation,” defined as a group of three or more people who act with a “common intent” to compel “or attempt to compel” another person to “do any act” or “assume or abandon a particular viewpoint.” The offense is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. The bill creates a new 3rd degree felony offense, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, for anyone who “willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or otherwise damages by any means” statues, flags, paintings, displays, or other “memorials.” As “deface” is not defined, protesters who apply paint or graffiti to a monument in the course of a peaceful protest could face up to 5 years in prison. The bill could encourage violence against protesters, by creating a new affirmative defense in civil lawsuits for personal injury, death, or property damage, such that a defendant could avoid liability by establishing that the injury, death, or damage they committed “arose from” conduct by someone “acting in furtherance of a riot or unlawful assembly.” Finally, the bill creates a new civil right of action against a municipal government that fails to provide “reasonable” law enforcement protection during a riot or unlawful assembly, making them civilly liable for damages, including personal injury or property damage. These provisions, if enacted, could encourage municipal governments to adopt overly aggressive law enforcement responses to protests in order to avoid lawsuits. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 6 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, driver immunity, police response, riot, traffic interference, state liability

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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: defeated / expired

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 171: Restrictive permitting requirements, and heightened penalties for “unlawful assembly," blocking traffic, and defacing property

Would prohibits assemblies on public property that have not received a permit, seemingly banning all spontaneous, First Amendment-protected assemblies. Local permitting processes for assemblies on public property would require applicants to provide contact information for “individuals responsible for managing and maintaining order during the event" as well as an "emergency plan" addressing the "security resources" the organizer has devoted to the event. The bill expands the definition of "unlawful assembly" to include “two or more persons who harass or intimidate another person within any public accommodation.” “Harass or intimidate” is not defined, meaning a boisterous protest in a public park or a university could potentially be deemed an “unlawful assembly.” The bill would also bar anyone convicted of unlawful assembly from receiving state or local employment benefits. The bill increases the penalty for purposefully or recklessly obstructing any street or highway to a felony, punishable by at least one and up to five years in prison, and a fine of at least $1,000 and not more than $5,000, if the person convicted is part of an “unlawful assembly” and refuses an order of a police officer to remove an obstruction. The bill creates a new offense of “defacing, defiling, or abusing contemptuously” a state-owned or maintained monument or other structure during an “unlawful assembly”, which is punishable by a penalty of at least 1 year and up to 15 years in prison, or a fine of $1,000 to $10,000. As such, a protester who chalked a sidewalk near a monument during an assembly that was deemed to be “unlawful” could face up to 15 years in jail. Further, the bill expands the state’s “racketeering” provision to include soliciting someone to commit "unlawful assembly" or "riot," which is a felony punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison. Finally, the bill makes the governing authorities of a county or municipality civilly liable if they intentionally interfere with the ability of a law enforcement agency to provide reasonable law enforcement protection during an "unlawful assembly" or "riot." These provisions make it more likely that cities will aggressively police constitutionally-protected protests out of fear of costly liability if they are later deemed to be an "unlawful assembly". (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 11 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): security costs, riot, state liability, limit on public benefits

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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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Hawaii

Emergency Proclamation: Declaring a state of emergency on Mauna Kea

Declared a state of emergency in response to demonstrations by indigenous communities and others against the planned construction of a new telescope on Mauna Kea, a mountain that has historically been a place of spiritual and religious worship. The emergency proclamation allowed for the activation of the National Guard and restrictions on the movement of protesters to and on mountain. The emergency proclamation was withdrawn on July 30, 2019. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 17 Jul 2019; Withdrawn by Governor Ige on 30 July 2019

Issue(s): state of emergency

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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: defeated / expired

Introduced 11 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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Illinois

HB 3409: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters at public universities or community colleges in the state. The bill requires these public educational institutions to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction any "protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity." Additionally, the bill requires administrators to suspend for at least one year any student who is twice found to be 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 22 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): campus speech

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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: defeated / expired

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. 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 posted. As introduced, the bill also provided that an organization found to have conspired with an individual to commit any of above offenses would be liable for a fine of at least ten times the minimum fine authorized for the individual, however these provisions were removed by an amendment. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 31 Jan 2019; Approved by House 11 April 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

Heightens the potential 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 law provides that an individual who knowingly enters a critical infrastructure facility without permission commits critical infrastructure facility trespass, a Level 6 felony punishable by up to 30 months in prison. Under the law, 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 individual found to have conspired with someone who commits either offense may also be liable for a fine of $100,000. The law 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: enacted

Introduced 14 Jan 2019; Approved by Senate 7 Feb 2019; Approved by House 25 March 2019; Signed by Governor Holcomb on 6 May 2019

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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Indiana

HB 1205: Expanded definition of "riot" and host of new criminal penalties for protesters

Would broaden the definition of “riot” and raise the penalty for riot in certain circumstances. Indiana law defines “rioting” as engaging in “tumultuous conduct” while a member of an “unlawful assembly.” The bill expands the definition of “unlawful assembly,” to require only 3 people engaged in “tumultuous conduct.” The bill also amends the definition of “tumultuous conduct” to include conduct that results or is likely to result in the “obstruction of law enforcement or other governmental function.” As a result of these changes, someone in a 3-person, peaceful protest whose conduct is deemed “likely” to interfere with a government hearing, for instance, could be covered by the resulting “riot” statute. The bill also heightens the penalty for “riot” from a Class A misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony, punishable by up to 2.5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, if committed by a person wearing a mask (such as a medical mask) or other face covering. The bill requires a mandatory 30-day sentence and restitution as penalties for all riot offenses. The bill heightens the penalty for “disorderly conduct,” a broadly defined offense that includes making “unreasonable noise,” if committed by a person in the same area as a “lawful or unlawful demonstration, protest, or assembly.” The offense would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. The bill would heighten the penalty for a person who damages or “defaces” property, as well, from a Class B misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony if committed by someone in the same “area” as a demonstration or protest. “Defaces” is not defined, and could include chalk and other temporary markings applied in the course of a protest. The bill also bars 24-hour protests on the grounds outside the state capitol, by making it a class A misdemeanor to “camp” in a number of places around the capitol building after being informed that camping is not allowed, either by signage or in person. “Camping” is defined as conduct between 10pm and 7am that includes laying down a blanket or using a piece of furniture. The bill would allow the state to seize any property that was used "to finance or facilitate the financing of a crime committed by a person while in an area where a lawful or unlawful demonstration, protest, or assembly was taking place." Finally, the bill would newly allow tort claims against government entities and officials for the failure to enforce the law “in connection with an unlawful assembly,” if the failure constitutes “gross negligence”—provisions that, if enacted, could encourage municipal and other local governments to adopt overly aggressive law enforcement responses to protests in order to avoid lawsuits. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 14 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, riot, camping, state liability

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Indiana

SB 198: New penalties for funding protests, failing to leave an “unlawful assembly,” and violating protest-related curfew

Would create a new Class A misdemeanor, “financing an unlawful assembly,” punishable by up to one year in jail, for a person who gives funding or “anything of value” to another person, knowing that they intend to commit an offense while part of an “unlawful assembly” and intending to aid them. The offense is a Level 6 felony if the person provides funding for five or more people, and a Level 5 felony if the person provides funding for 10 or more people. Indiana law broadly defines “unlawful assembly” as an assembly of five or more persons whose common object is to commit an unlawful act, or a lawful act by unlawful means. A donor who provides funding or supplies to a group knowing that they intend to commit civil disobedience as part of an “unlawful assembly,” could face felony charges and up to six years in prison. The bill also authorizes the government to seize property that is used to finance or “facilitate” the financing of a crime committed by a person while part of an “unlawful assembly.” The bill creates a new Class B misdemeanor offense, “enabling riot,” for anyone who is present during the commission of a felony by a participant in an “unlawful assembly,” and who knows that the participant is committing a criminal offense, and fails to “immediately” either leave the location or report the offense to law enforcement. A journalist, for instance, who stays at the scene of a protest that is deemed an “unlawful assembly,” and does not immediately report unlawful behavior could face six months in jail for “enabling riot.” The bill newly authorizes the head of a county or city to declare a curfew upon receiving information about the “likelihood” of a “riot” or “unlawful assembly,” and creates a new Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, for failure to abide by curfew orders. The bill expands the attorney general’s concurrent jurisdiction with the prosecuting attorney to include prosecutions of any “criminal offense” committed by members of an “unlawful assembly.” As a result, the Indiana attorney general would be able to bring charges against protesters if the relevant local prosecutor declined to do so. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 12 Jan 2021; Approved by Senate 16 February 2021

Issue(s): conspiracy, riot

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Indiana

SB 96: Expanded definition of "riot" and ban on protest camps on state property

Would redefine “rioting” as three or more people who “recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally” engage in “tumultuous” conduct, punishable by a minimum of 30 days in jail and up to one year in prison. “Tumultuous” conduct includes conduct that obstructs law enforcement or other governmental functions, or that is likely to result in substantial damage to property or bodily injury. The offense does not require actual property damage or violence, and could cover a small peaceful group of protesters that momentarily blocks a government vehicle. The bill also makes it a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, to “camp” in a number of places around the state capitol building after being informed that camping is not allowed, either by signage or in person. Camping is defined as conduct between 10pm and 7am that includes laying down a blanket or placing a piece of furniture on state property. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 7 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): riot, traffic interference, camping

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Indiana

SB 34: New penalties for unpermitted protests that block traffic, unlawful assemblies, and "riot" offenses

Would increase the penalty for obstructing pedestrian or vehicular traffic to a level 5 felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, if committed by "a person participating in a protest or demonstration” that is not authorized by a permit. The bill also newly penalizes as a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, participants in an unlawful assembly in a place of public accommodation who make unreasonable noise and continue to do so after being asked to stop, or who disrupt a lawful gathering of persons. The bill enables the government to seize any “real or personal property” that is used to finance or facilitate a crime—including minor violations—committed by a person who is part of an unlawful assembly. It strips immunity from government officials who “fail to enforce the law in connection with an unlawful assembly, if the failure to enforce the law constitutes gross negligence,” opening up government officials to civil suits if they do not aggressively police protests. The bill bans a person convicted of rioting from holding state government employment, including elected office, and bars a person convicted of rioting from receiving a broad range of state and local benefits, including healthcare and educational benefits. Rioting in Indiana is defined broadly as a person who, as part of an unlawful assembly, recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally engages in “tumultuous” conduct. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 4 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): riot, traffic interference, state liability, limit on public benefits

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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: defeated / expired

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

SSB 1140: Heightened penalties for “riot,” “unlawful assembly,” protests that block traffic, and defacing monuments

Would elevate “riot” from an aggravated misdemeanor to a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $7,500 fine. Iowa law defines “riot” as a group of three or more people assembled “in a violent manner,” at least one of whom uses any unlawful force or violence against another person, or causes property damage. The bill would also elevate “unlawful assembly” from a simple misdemeanor to an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in jail and a $6,250 fine. Iowa law defines “unlawful assembly” as a group of three or more people, any of whom are acting “in a violent manner,” and who intend that any of them will commit an offense. Under the bill, it is a serious (rather than simple) misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a $1,875 fine, to “obstruct” a sidewalk, street, or “other public way” with the intent to hinder its use by others. If an individual obstructs a sidewalk or street while “present during an unlawful assembly,” it is an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by 2 years in jail and a $6,250 fine. If an individual obstructs a sidewalk or street while “present during a riot,” it is a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $7,500 fine. The bill also creates a new felony offense for intentionally defacing or altering public property, “including a monument or statue.” The offense is a Class D felony. The bill provides that a sentence for the offense must include restitution for any damage to the property. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 2 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, riot, traffic interference

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Iowa

HF 251: New penalties for protesters, including those who block roads, and immunity for drivers who injure them

Would create a new felony offense of “violent or disorderly assembly” that could cover peaceful protesters. The offense is defined to include a group of seven or more people that creates an immediate danger of property damage or personal injury, or that “substantially obstructs” government functions or services. Joining or remaining part of a “violent or disorderly assembly” is a Class D felony, punishable by at least one and up to five years in prison. If an individual traveled from another state to participate in a “violent or disorderly assembly,” it is a Class C felony, punishable by at least two and up to 10 years in prison. The bill provides for the termination of any state or local government employee who is convicted of engaging in a “violent or disorderly assembly.” The bill raises the penalty for unauthorized obstruction of any street, sidewalk, highway, or other public way, with intent to prevent or hinder its use by others. The bill changes the offense from a minor to a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Under the bill, if the obstruction takes place during an “unlawful assembly,” it is an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in jail. Iowa law defines “unlawful assembly” as a group of three or more people, at least one of whom is acting violently, gathered with intent that at least one of them will commit an infraction. If the obstruction takes place during a “riot,” it is a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Iowa defines “riot” as a group of three or more people assembled “in a violent manner” that “disturb[s]” other people, with any unlawful force by anyone in the group. The bill also creates new penalties for a person who performs any act “related to organizing, scheduling, or otherwise assembling” a group of people, knowing or with reason to know that they will intentionally obstruct a highway. Such a person is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in jail. The bill establishes civil immunity for a driver who injures someone participating in an unpermitted protest or demonstration who is blocking a street or highway, as long as the driver was exercising “due care.” The bill would create a new felony offense for protesters who “damage,” “deface,” or otherwise “alter” any public property, including a public monument. “Deface” is not defined, and could include temporary chalk messages. The offense would be a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 27 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): conspiracy, driver immunity, riot, traffic interference

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Iowa

HF 430: Heightened penalties for protesters who block streets and sidewalks

Would raise the penalty for protesters who obstruct any street, sidewalk, highway, or other public way, with intent to prevent or hinder its use by others. The bill changes the offense from a minor to a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Under the bill, if the obstruction takes place during an “unlawful assembly,” it is an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in jail. Iowa law defines “unlawful assembly” as a group of three or more people, at least one of whom is acting violently, gathered with intent that at least one of them will commit an infraction. If the obstruction takes place during a “riot,” it is a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Iowa defines “riot” as a group of three or more people assembled “in a violent manner” that “disturb[s]” other people, with any unlawful force by anyone in the group. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 26 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): riot, traffic interference

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Iowa

SB 286: 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; reintroduced 18 February 2019

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Kansas

SB 172: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would create four new criminal offenses that could capture the conduct of peaceful protesters near pipelines. Under the bill, entering or remaining in a "critical infrastructure" facility, or on property containing such a facility if it is posted with signs or fenced off, is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Trespassing with intent to "vandalize, deface, or tamper with" a critical infrastructure facility, or to “impede or inhibit” its operations, is a Level 7 felony, punishable by approximately 2 years in prison. Actually, knowingly "vandalizing, defacing, or tampering with” the facility is a Level 6 felony, punishable by approximately 3 years in prison, and doing so with the intent to impede or inhibit the facility's operations is a Level 5 felony, punishable by approximately 4 years in prison. The bill provides that a person arrested or convicted of any of these offenses is civilly liable for “any damages to personal or real property.” Under the bill, any person or “entity” that provides compensation to someone to commit any of the above offenses may also be held civilly liable for any property damage or personal injury. Finally, the bill would amend Kansas’s RICO law, adding the trespass and damage offenses above to the underlying crimes that may be prosecuted under RICO. The bill creates a broad new definition of “critical infrastructure,” which includes among many other things “a portion of any belowground or aboveground oil, gas, hazardous liquid or chemical pipeline” or any storage, processing, or distribution facility for crude oil or natural gas. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 8 Feb 2021.

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

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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 44: 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. Like HB 238, introduced in the 2019 session, HB 44 amends the definition of “key infrastructure assets" under Kentucky law to include “natural 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. Trespass onto "key infrastructure assets" is a Class B misdemeanor for the first offense (up to three months in jail) and a Class A misdemeanor for subsequent offenses (up to one year in jail). As introduced, the bill created a new offense for for a person who “intentionally or wantonly... tampers with, impedes, or inhibits operations of a key infrastructure asset.” This conduct would comprise “criminal mischief in the first degree”--a Class D felony, which under Kentucky law can be punished by up to five years in prison. 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, could presumably fall under this definition. The introduced bill also provided that any "person" (which under Kentucky law could include an organization) may be civilly liable if they "knowingly compensate[] or remunerate[]" another person to commit criminal mischief on a key infrastructure asset. The damages include actual damages to personal or real property “caused by the crime” as well as punitive damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees.

**An amendment removed the language penalizing activity that "impeded" or "inhibited" operations of infrastructure like a pipeline. The enrolled version instead penalizes "tamper[ing] with the operations of a key infrastructure asset... in a manner that renders the operations harmful or dangerous." The amendment also narrowed vicarious civil liability anyone who "knowingly directs or causes a person" to commit the tampering offense.** (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 29 Aug 2019; Prefiled as BR 204 on 29 August 2019; Approved by House 10 February 2020; Approved by Senate 5 March 2020; Signed by Governor Beshear on 16 March 2020

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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Kentucky

SB 211: Mandatory minimum penalties for numerous offenses associated with protests, and a ban on “camping” on state property

Would create mandatory penalties for participation in a “riot” and “incitement to riot,” including mandatory minimum prison sentences without parole or probation, a fine of $500-$5,000, and disqualification from public assistance benefits for 6 months to a year. Kentucky law broadly defines "riot" as a group of five or more people who disturb the public by "tumultuous and violent conduct" that creates "grave danger" of property damage or injury or "substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government function." The bill intensifies penalties for blocking traffic if it takes place during a "riot," providing that intentionally making a road or highway impassable or "prevent[ing] law enforcement officers from accessing an assembly, protest, demonstration, or other gathering” is a Class D felony if it occurs during a "riot;" the bill requires as punishment a minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and disqualification from public benefits for one year. The bill also provides heightened penalties and mandatory minimum sentences for the offenses of resisting arrest, obstructing emergency responders, and failure to disperse, if they are committed during a “riot.” The bill bars 24-hour protests on certain state property, by making it a Class A misdemeanor to “camp” on state property that is not specifically designated for camping. “Camping” is defined as conduct between 10pm and 7am that includes laying down a blanket or using a piece of furniture. If “camping” occurs during a “riot,” the bill requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 months in jail without parole or probation, a $500 fine, and disqualification from public benefits for 6 months. The second or subsequent offense is a Class D felony, subject to a minimum sentence of 4 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and disqualification from public benefits for one year. The bill prohibits granting bail for at least 48 hours to anyone arrested of offenses including camping on state property, criminal mischief, obstructing an emergency responder, riot, and incitement to riot. The bill establishes a new legal justification for using lethal force during protests, creating a presumption that a person who uses force in self-defence had a "reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm" if they acted during a "riot." Finally, the bill would allow civil lawsuits against the government for failure to prevent damage to property, if authorities had “notice or good reason to believe” that a “riot” or “tumultuous assemblage” was going to take place and were “grossly negligent” in their response. If enacted, these provisions could encourage municipal and other local governments to adopt overly aggressive law enforcement responses to protests in order to avoid costly lawsuits. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 9 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): riot, traffic interference, camping, state liability, stand your ground, limit on public benefits

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Kentucky

HB 164: New penalties for protests that disrupt lawful meetings, block traffic, occur overnight on state property, and for “riot” offenses

Would raise penalties for protests that disrupt or offend meetings of public officials. The penalty for “disrupting a meeting” is increased to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, if a person did “any act” “tending to obstruct” a lawful meeting, or made “any utterance, gesture, or display designed to outrage the sensibilities of the group.” Protests that block streets would face higher penalties as well: Obstructing any “public passage” is raised to a Class A misdemeanor; it is raised to a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, if it prevents an “emergency vehicle,” defined as any government or public service vehicle responding to an emergency, from accessing a street. The bill also bars 24-hour protests on certain state property, by making it a Class D felony to “camp” on state property that is not specifically designated for camping. “Camping” is defined as conduct between 10pm and 7am that includes laying down a blanket or using a piece of furniture. The bill would impose mandatory minimum sentences of 30-45 days for individuals convicted of riot offenses. Kentucky law defines “riot” as a group of five or more that creates a danger of property damage or personal injury, or that substantially obstructs law enforcement or another government function, through violent and tumultuous conduct. The bill would also require that courts order full restitution “for any pecuniary loss” in riot convictions. The provision does not require that an individual convicted be ordered to pay restitution only for “pecuniary loss” that they were directly responsible for. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 5 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, riot, traffic interference, camping

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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 “natural gas or petroleum pipelines and related facilities.” 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: defeated / expired

Introduced 5 Feb 2019; Approved by House 26 February 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

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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

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Kentucky

HB 488: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would make it a class D felony to wear a mask, hood, or other device to conceal one's identity at a public protest, demonstration, or march in order to escape recognition when committing a crime. As such, a protester wearing a mask who committed a relatively minor crime, such as traffic interference, could face this offense, which is punishable by a minimum of one year and up to to five years in jail. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Feb 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings

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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 197: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

Would build on a 2018 law that heightened penalties for protesters near pipelines and other “critical infrastructure” (see HB 727). The bill further expands the definition of “critical infrastructure” to include “water control structures, including floodgates or pump stations.” This would expand the universe of places where protesters could face felony charges and 5 years in prison for "unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure" — e.g. for protests near dams and levees, as well as such structures that are under construction. The bill also provides heightened penalties for “unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure” during a state of emergency: Under the bill, if a state of emergency is in effect, unauthorized entry onto critical infrastructure (for instance during a peaceful protest) is punishable by at least 3 and up to 15 years’ imprisonment, along with a fine of $5,000-$10,000. As such, protesters could face even harsher penalties for protesting on infrastructure property—or infrastructure construction sites—during a state of emergency. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 24 Feb 2020; Approved by House 22 May 2020; Approved by Senate 29 May 2020; Vetoed by Governor Edwards 12 June 2020

Issue(s): infrastructure, state of emergency, 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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Maryland

HB 645: New penalties for protests on streets and sidewalks

Would create new criminal penalties for protesters who interfere with vehicular or pedestrian traffic. The bill makes it an offense to knowingly and unlawfully “obstruct, hinder, impede, or block” use of a “highway.” The offense would be a misdemeanor punishable by 3 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. Maryland Code on Transportation §8-101 defines “highway” to include any “structures forming an integral part of a street, road, or highway, including bicycle and walking paths.” If the bill were enacted, peaceful protesters who temporarily diverted pedestrians on a sidewalk could face up to three years in prison. The bill would also newly criminalize “disturb[ing] the peace of another” by making an “unreasonably loud noise”--for instance through a march or demonstration--on a street or other right-of-way. The offense would be a misdemeanor, punishable by two months in jail and a $500 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 22 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Maryland

HB 198: New penalties for protests that “disturb the peace”

Would dramatically expand the definition of “disturbing the peace” such that it could be applied to protests in a number of contexts. Under the bill, the offense is revised to broadly prohibit intentionally causing or recklessly creating a risk of “public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm,” by conduct including: engaging in “tumultuous or threatening behavior;” “making unreasonable noise;” “disturbing” any lawful meeting or gathering; or obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic. As revised, the offense could apply to protesters who are deemed “threatening” or “unreasonably” noisy; it could also apply to a protest that “disturbs” a government hearing or “obstructs” pedestrians on a public sidewalk. The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to two months in jail and a $500 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 1 Nov 2020; Withdrawn by sponsor 2 March 2021

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Massachusetts

HB 1428: New penalties for protests that block roads

Would penalize “any person who intentionally blocks or prevents access to a public roadway or highway while protesting with the express purpose of preventing passage of others.” Under the bill, anyone who intentionally blocked a public road in the course of a protest could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 22 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Massachusetts

HB 3284: New criminal liability for deaths during protests

Would create the new criminal offense of “manslaughter caused by reckless disregard of life while protesting or blocking highway or roadway access.” The offense would be added to the definition of “manslaughter” under Massachusetts law. Accordingly, if organizers led a protest onto a road and a protester was hit by a car, e.g., the organizers could potentially be held liable for manslaughter under the bill. The offense would be punishable by up to twenty years in prison. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 22 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Massachusetts

S 1036: Heightened penalties for blocking traffic

Would penalize anyone who obstructs or attempts to obstruct "the normal movement of traffic, commerce, or any emergency medical services on a limited access or express state highway" in a manner that is dangerous to the general public. Under the bill, whoever commits this act could be punished up to 10 years in jail. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 22 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Massachusetts

HB 1588: 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: defeated / expired

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

HB 6269: Revoking Public Benefits of those Charged during "Civil Unrest"

Would revoke public assistance benefits for one year for someone who is “charged with looting, vandalism, or a violent crime in relation to or stemming from civil unrest.” “Civil unrest” is defined to include simply unlawfully blocking a sidewalk or roadway or an unlawful assembly. ”Violent crime” is defined broadly to include “intimidation, threat, or coercion.” As such, a nonviolent protester who was charged, but not convicted, of making a threat or being intimidating at a protest could lose their public assistance, including medical and food assistance from the state. The bill further requires that if the person has their child with them when they are charged with a covered crime that the individual will be reported to child protective services. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 29 Sep 2020.

Issue(s): riot, limit on public benefits

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Michigan

HB 4436: New limits on campus protests

Would impose new limits on protests at public colleges and universities. The bill would require all public institutions of higher education to adopt a policy prohibiting protests and demonstrations that “substantially and materially infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity,” and make protesters involved in such assemblies "subject to sanction." As a result, protests in public areas of campus that, for instance, made it difficult to hear a speech, would be banned and its participants liable to penalties. The policy would apply not only to students and faculty but any other person “lawfully present on campus.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Apr 2019.

Issue(s): campus speech

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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 355: New penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines

Would create new civil and criminal liability for protesters on pipeline property as well as civil liability for any organization or entity that supports them. Like SF 3230/ HF 2966, introduced during the 2019-2020 session, the bill would make someone who trespasses on property containing a pipeline or other “critical public service facility” liable for any damages to property that they commit while trespassing. Any person or entity that “knowingly recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, [or] conspires with” someone who trespasses or causes damage to property could be held “jointly and severably liable.” If the person trespasses with intent "to significantly impede or inhibit operation" of a covered facility, utility, or pipeline they are guilty of a felony and may be subject to three years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. The phrase "significantly impede or inhibit" could be construed to encompass peaceful protests that block access to infrastructure, which under Minnesota law is broadly defined to include bus stations and parts of bridges. The broad language used in the joint and severable liability provisions could be construed to include aiding a protester by providing them with water or medical assistance. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 28 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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Minnesota

HF 466: Barring public benefits for protest-related offenses

Would broadly disqualify a person convicted of an offense during a protest from receiving public assistance. Any “offense related to the person's illegal conduct at a protest, demonstration, rally, civil unrest, or march” would disqualify the person from a range of benefits, including food assistance, education loans and grants, and unemployment assistance. Under the bill, a person convicted of even a misdemeanor that is deemed somehow “related” to their participation in a peaceful protest could face permanent disqualification from such benefits. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 28 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): limit on public benefits

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Minnesota

HF 303 / SF 1285: New Penalties for Protesters Who Block Traffic

Would heighten penalties for protesters who intentionally disrupt traffic on a freeway or a roadway on airport property. Like HF 390, introduced in the 2019-2020 session, HF 303 provides that 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. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 25 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Minnesota

HF 254 / SF 386: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would create new potential penalties for protests near pipelines, utilities, and "critical public service facilities." Like HF 2441, which was introduced in the 2019-2020 session, HF 254 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 21 Jan 2021.

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

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Minnesota

HF 129 / SF 1378: NEW PENALTIES FOR PROTESTS NEAR GAS AND OIL PIPELINES

Would create new civil and criminal liability for protesters on infrastructure property as well as for any organization or entity that supports them. Like HF 3668, introduced in the 2019-2020 session, HF 129 would make someone who is convicted of or merely arrested for trespassing on property containing a critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline, civilly liable for any property damage arising out of the trespass. Under the bill, a person “or entity” that “recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with” someone who is convicted of or arrested for trespassing is also civilly liable for damages. The bill creates criminal liability for anyone who "intentionally recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with” someone to trespass, as well: If the person or entity fails to make a “reasonable effort” to prevent the trespass, and the offense is committed, they are guilty of a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. The broad language used in the vicarious liability provisions could be construed to include aiding a protester by providing them with water or medical assistance. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 14 Jan 2021.

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

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Minnesota

HF 3668: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would create new civil and criminal liability for protesters on infrastructure property as well as for any organization or entity that supports them. The bill would make someone who is convicted of or merely arrested for trespassing on property containing a critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline, civilly liable for any property damage arising out of the trespass. Under the bill, a person “or entity” that “recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with” someone who is convicted of or arrested for trespassing is also civilly liable for damages. The bill creates criminal liability for anyone who "intentionally recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with” someone to trespass, as well: If the person or entity fails to make a “reasonable effort” to prevent the trespass, and the offense is committed, they are guilty of a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. The broad language used in the vicarious liability provisions could 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 24 Feb 2020.

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

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Minnesota

HF 2966: New Penalties for Protests Near Oil and Gas Pipelines

Would create new civil and criminal liability for protesters on infrastructure property as well as civil liability for any organization or entity that supports them. The bill would make someone who trespasses on property containing a critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline liable for any damages to property that they commit while trespassing. Any person or entity that “knowingly recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, [or] conspires with” someone who trespasses or causes damage to property could be held “jointly and severably liable.” If the person trespasses with intent "to significantly impede or inhibit operation" of a covered facility, utility, or pipeline they are guilty of a felony and may be subject to three years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. The phrase "significantly impede or inhibit" could be construed to encompass peaceful protests that block access to infrastructure, which under Minnesota law is broadly defined to include bus stations and parts of bridges. The broad language used in the joint and severable liability provision could 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 31 Jan 2020.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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Minnesota

HF 2441/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: defeated / expired

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: defeated / expired

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: defeated / expired

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

HB 1243: 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 7 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: enacted

Introduced 19 Feb 2020; Approved by House 4 March 2020; Approved by Senate 15 June 2020; Signed by Governor 25 June 2020.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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Mississippi

HB 763: New legal justification for killing people during protests

Would amend Mississippi's law on "justifiable homicide," creating a new legal justification for homicide when committed in defense of one’s own business during a “riot” or “any violent protest.” If enacted, the provisions could encourage deadly confrontations at protests. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 18 Jan 2021; Died in committee 2 February 2021

Issue(s): riot, stand your ground

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Mississippi

SB 2374: New penalties for protest organizers and protestors who fail to disperse, interfere with traffic, or “deface” monuments, and a legal shield for drivers who hit people at protests

Would create a vaguely defined new felony offense, “violent or disorderly assembly,” that could cover peaceful protesters. The offense is defined as either a) a group of 10 or more people who refuse to heed a lawful order to disperse; or b) a group of 10 or more people who create an “immediate danger of damage to property” or personal injury, who “obstruct” law enforcement or other government services, and who “disturbs any person in the enjoyment of a legal right.” Anyone who participates in, “incites,” “organizes, promotes, encourages,” “commits any act in furtherance of,” or intentionally “aids or abets any person in inciting or participating in” a “violent or disorderly assembly” is guilty of a felony, punishable by up to 2 years in prison. The breadth and vagueness of the offence could cover, for instance, someone on social media whose post is deemed to have “encouraged” a crowd to stay and protest despite law enforcement’s order to disperse. The bill includes new penalties for protests that interfere with traffic on roads and highways, including up to one year in jail for anyone who “maliciously” obstructs the “free, convenient, and normal use” of a street or highway during a protest that was not authorized by a permit, or a protest that was deemed a “violent or disorderly assembly.” The bill would shield a driver who unintentionally injured or killed someone while trying to “escape a mob” during an unpermitted protest or a “violent or disorderly assembly.” If enacted, those provisions would allow a driver to evade civil damages and criminal penalties for hitting and even killing a protester, as long as the injury or death was “unintended.” The bill creates a new felony offense, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for anyone who “defaces” or “vandalizes” a monument during a “violent or disorderly assembly.” The bill creates another offense, punishable by up to one year in jail, for anyone who “harasses” or “intimidate[s]” another person at a public accommodation during a “violent or disorderly assembly.” The bill strips unemployment assistance from anyone convicted of the offenses described above; anyone convicted of the above offenses is also barred from holding state or local government employment. The bill would newly allow claims against local government entities and officials for the failure to protect individuals from injury or property damage caused by a riot or “violent or disorderly assembly,” if the failure constitutes “gross negligence”—provisions that, if enacted, could encourage municipal and other local governments to adopt overly aggressive law enforcement responses to protests in order to avoid lawsuits. Finally, the bill would newly add “violent or disorderly assembly” and all related offenses described above to the crimes that can be prosecuted for “racketeering activity” under Mississippi’s RICO statute. As a result, an organization or individual found to have “conspired” with individuals to engage in or encourage a protest that is deemed a “violent or disorderly assembly” could be prosecuted under RICO, and subject to felony penalties. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 15 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): conspiracy, driver immunity, riot, traffic interference, state liability, limit on public benefits

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Mississippi

SB 2283: New mandatory penalties for protesters who block traffic

As introduced, would create new, mandatory penalties for unpermitted protests that take place on or overflow into streets and highways. Under the introduced bill, anyone who “maliciously” obstructs the “free, convenient, and normal use” of a street or highway during a protest that was not authorized by a permit, is required to be jailed for at least 25 days (and up to one year), and pay at least $500 (and up to $1,500). (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 12 Jan 2021; Approved by Senate 4 February 2021; Died in committee 2 March 2021

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Mississippi

HB 83: New penalties for protestors who interfere with traffic and a legal shield for drivers and others who injure or kill protesters

Would create a vaguely defined new felony offense, “violent or disorderly assembly” that could cover peaceful protesters. The offense is defined as conduct by seven or more assembled people that creates an “immediate danger of damage to property” or personal injury, or that “substantially obstructs law enforcement or other governmental functions or services.” The offense would be punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The vagueness of the definition would allow authorities broad discretion to determine what constitutes, for instance, “creat[ing] an immediate danger” of property damage or injury. The bill includes new penalties for protests that interfere with traffic on roads and sidewalks, including a felony offense for “interfering with the regular flow of vehicular traffic” during a “violent or disorderly assembly.” Under the bill, a driver who injures or kills someone who “obstructs or interferes with” traffic during an unpermitted protest or a “violent or disorderly assembly” is not criminally or civilly liable, as long as the driver did not do so “intentionally.” The bill strips unemployment assistance from any person who is convicted of or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a number of protest-related offenses, including “violent or disorderly assembly,” and requires that government employees found guilty of violating any of the bills’ provisions be fired from their positions. The bill precludes civil lawsuits against the state by anyone convicted of “unlawfully participating in a riot, unlawful assembly, public demonstration, mob violence, or civil disobedience,” if the claim arises out of that conduct. Further, the bill creates a new civil right of action against local governments by any “victim” of “violent or unlawful assembly” or other protest-related offenses, if the local government “failed or was grossly negligent” in policing a riot or “violent or disorderly assembly”—provisions that, if enacted, could encourage municipal and other local governments to adopt overly aggressive law enforcement responses to protests in order to avoid lawsuits. The bill would newly add “violent or disorderly assembly” to the underlying crimes that can be prosecuted for “racketeering activity” under Mississippi’s RICO statute, such that an organization or individual found to have “conspired” with individuals to engage in a protest that is deemed a “violent or disorderly assembly” could be prosecuted under RICO, and subject to felony penalties. Finally, the bill would amend Mississippi’s law on “justifiable homicide,” creating a new legal justification for anyone who uses deadly force to “necessarily” defend their business “where there is looting, rioting” or other offenses created under the bill, including the defacing of public property. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 7 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): conspiracy, driver immunity, riot, traffic interference, state liability, limit on public benefits

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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 355: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would create new potential penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines and other "critical infrastructure." The bill--which was substituted by a Missouri Senate committee for a House bill on sentencing guidelines--would heighten the penalties for trespass occuring on critical infrastructure property. Trespass with intent "to damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, [or] tamper with” a facility or intent to “impede or inhibit the operations” of a facility would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Protesters seeking to peacefully demonstrate against construction of a new pipeline, for instance, with the intent to disrupt that construction, could be prosecuted under the bill. The bill would also newly criminalize "damage" to critical infrastructure, broadly defined to include vandalism, and make it a Class C felony, punishable by 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The bill would also newly and broadly define "critical infrastructure" to include oil and gas pipelines, refineries, cell phone towers, and railroad tracks—whether operational or under construction. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 18 Apr 2019; Approved by Senate as amended 17 May 2019; Approved by House 17 May 2019; Signed by Governor Parson on 11 July 2019

Issue(s): infrastructure, trespass

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Missouri

HB 1413: Limiting public employees' ability to picket

***Note: A Judge of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County found HB 1413 unconstitutional in its entirety and granted a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the law on January 27, 2020. ***

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 66: New penalties for protesters, and shields for those who commit violence against them

Would introduce a raft of new provisions affecting protesters, including civil immunity for drivers who injure protesters and a new affirmative defense for other acts of violence against protesters. The bill provides that a driver who injures someone who was “blocking traffic in a public right-of way while participating in a protest or demonstration” is not liable for damages, if the driver was “exercising due care.” The bill would also expand Missouri’s “Stand Your Ground” law, allowing a person to use deadly force against someone who is participating in an “unlawful assembly” and who unlawfully enters or attempts to enter private property that is owned or leased by the person. The bill introduces a series of new penalties for conduct associated with some protests: Protesters who block traffic could be charged with a new felony offense (up to 4 years in prison and a $10,000 fine) for intentionally walking, standing, sitting, kneeling, laying or placing an object in a manner that “blocks passage by a vehicle on any public street, highway, or interstate highway.” The offense would be a Class D felony (7 years and $10,000) if committed “as part of an unlawful assembly.” Under the bill, a person who “causes emotional distress to another person while participating in an unlawful assembly,” is guilty of second-degree harassment, punishable in most cases as a Class E felony (4 years and $10,000). Under the bill, protesters who vandalized, defaced, or otherwise damaged public monuments or structures on public property could be charged with “institutional vandalism,” a Class B felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Finally, the bill would create a new offense of "conspiring with others to cause or produce a riot or unlawful assembly," defined as knowingly providing payment or “other financial incentive” to six or more people to violate the Missouri laws against rioting or unlawful assembly. The new offense would be a Class E felony (4 years and $10,000). (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 1 Dec 2020.

Issue(s): conspiracy, driver immunity, riot, traffic interference, trespass

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Missouri

HB 56: Eliminating civil and criminal liability for drivers who hit protesters

Would shield a driver from civil and criminal liability for injuring someone who was participating in an “unlawful or riotous assemblage,” if the driver was fleeing from the “unlawful or riotous assemblage” and "reasonably believed” they were in danger. If enacted, the bill would allow a driver to evade civil damages and criminal penalties for intentionally hitting and even killing a protester, if the driver “reasonably believed” they were in any danger. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 1 Dec 2020.

Issue(s): driver immunity, riot

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Missouri

SB 26: heightened penalties for blocking roads

Would criminalize protests that block traffic as "unlawful traffic interference" and provide for harsh penalties. Like SB 9, introduced in the 2020 session, the bill would criminalize a person's intentional blocking of traffic on a public street or highway, whether with her body or an object, as a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. If the offense is repeated, or takes place on an interstate highway, it is a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in jail and a $10,000 fine. If the offense is committed while the person is part of an "unlawful assembly," it is a Class D felony, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Missouri law currently defines an "unlawful assembly" as a gathering of at least six people in order to violate a law with force or violence. The bill would broaden this definition to include a gathering of two or more people to violate any law, with or without force or violence. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 1 Dec 2020; Approved by Senate 25 February 2021

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Missouri

SB 9: Heightened penalties for blocking roads

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 $2,000 fine. If the offense is repeated, or takes place on an interstate highway, it is a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in jail and a $10,000 fine. If the offense is committed while the person is part of an unlawful assembly, it is a Class D felony, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 27 Jul 2020.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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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: defeated / expired

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: defeated / expired

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: defeated / expired

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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Montana

HB 481: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would heighten penalties for protests near oil pipelines and other "critical infrastructure facilities", including those under construction. The bill creates an offense of trespassing on critical infrastructure, defined as willfully and knowingly entering property containing a critical infrastructure facility that is posted or fenced. It is punishable by a misdemeanor of up to 6 months in jail or a $1,500 fine. If a person trespasses with the intent to willfully impede the facility's operations, or damage, deface, or tamper with facility equipment, the offense is a felony punishable by up to eighteen months in prison or a $4,500 fine. An organization that is found to be a conspirator in trespass on critical infrastructure is liable for fines that are ten times the amount authorized for the crime. A person who trespasses can be held liable for damages to property while trespassing, including damages to network performance or outage issues proximately caused by the trespass. An entity or person that compensates or provides consideration to someone for trespass may be held vicariously liable for damages committed by that person. "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: pending

Introduced 18 Feb 2021; Approved by House 2 March 2021

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

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Montana

HB 571: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would make it a felony offense to conceal one's identity by wearing a mask for the purpose of avoiding identification while committing an offense against public order. Concealing one's identity in this situation is punishable by up to five years in jail or a fine of $5,000. In Montana, an offense against the public order includes minor and broadly defined crimes like creating a public nuisance or disorderly conduct, meaning a protester who wore a mask and was charged with one of these crimes could also face a felony offense under this bill. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 27 Feb 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Nebraska

LB 111: Broad new penalties for "riot"-related offenses and disruptive protests

The bill would create a sweeping new “riot” offense, with steep penalties for participating in, organizing, advocating for, or assisting a riot. The bill defines “riot” as a group of three or more whose “tumultuous and violent conduct” creates “grave danger” of property damage or serious injury, or “substantially obstructs law enforcement or another governmental function.” The bill prohibits “participation” in a riot, which includes not only joining a riot, but “aiding and abetting” a riot, or “refusing any lawful order” by law enforcement. It is likewise prohibited under the bill to “advocate for or urge or organize” a riot. If the riot results in serious bodily injury or property damage, a person can be charged with a Class IV felony for the above offenses, regardless of whether the person had any role in the injury or damage, and sentenced to up to two years in prison. In all other cases the offenses are Class I misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail. The bill precludes bail for any one charged with “any crime… arising out of a riot.” The bill also affects protests on streets and sidewalks, as it creates a new offense for any person who intentionally or recklessly “obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, aisle, hallway, or any other “public way,” whether on their own or with others. “Obstruct” is defined as rendering the public way “impassable” or “unreasonably inconvenient.” The offense, which could cover peaceful protests that take place on or spill over onto sidewalks and streets, would be a Class I misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. The bill would also make it unlawful to intentionally and substantially “obstruct or interfere with” a “lawful meeting, procession, or gathering.” The offense, which would presumably cover peaceful but disruptive protests at e.g. government hearings, would be a Class II misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail. Finally, the bill also creates new Class 1 misdemeanor offenses for “unauthorized application of graffiti” on state property, where “graffiti” is defined broadly enough to encompass chalk and other temporary markings applied as part of a peaceful protest. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 7 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): conspiracy, riot, traffic interference

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Nevada

AB 168: New felony penalties for unlawful protests and protests that block traffic, as well as penalties for protest funders and organizers

Would impose Class E felony penalties for participating in an “assembly to disturb the public peace,” an “unlawful assembly,” a “rout,” or a “riot,” if committed by a group of seven or more people. Under current Nevada law, all four offenses are misdemeanors if committed by two or more people. An “unlawful assembly,” for instance, is defined as two or more people who meet to do an unlawful act, but disperse without doing it. Under the bill, a group of seven who do so are guilty of a Class E felony, punishable by at least one and up to 4 years in prison. The bill would also increase the penalty for obstructing any road, street, or alley, from a misdemeanor to a Class E felony, if it occurs during an “assembly to disturb the public peace,” an “unlawful assembly,” a “rout” or a “riot.” Under the bill, a driver who injures or kills someone who was unlawfully obstructing a road, street or alley during an “assembly to disturb the public peace,” an “unlawful assembly,” a “rout” or a “riot,” would not be civilly liable if they were exercising “due care.” Under the bill, it would also be a Class E felony instead of a gross misdemeanor to vandalize, place graffiti on or otherwise deface property if committed during a “riot.” The bill creates a new Class E felony offense for knowingly or intentionally providing “material support” with the intent that the support will be used in or for an “assembly to disturb the public peace,” an “unlawful assembly,” or a “rout” or “riot.” "Material support” is broadly defined to include “any financial, logistical, informational or other support or assistance," such that someone who gives directions to someone in a 3-person "unlawful assembly" could face felony charges.The bill would also expand Nevada’s racketeering law, to cover racketeering activity in furtherance of an “assembly to disturb the public peace,” an “unlawful assembly,” a “rout” or a “riot,” resulting in potential new penalties for protest organizers. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 23 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): conspiracy, driver immunity, riot, traffic interference

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New Hampshire

HB 197: Legal defense for the use of deadly force against protesters

Would create a new legal justification for using deadly force against protesters. The bill would expand New Hampshire’s self-defense statutes to justify a person’s use of deadly force against someone who they believe is “likely” to use “any unlawful force” while committing a “riot” against someone in a vehicle, house, or curtilage. The bill appears to justify deadly force against someone who is “likely” to use “any” amount of force while committing "riot"--including against a third party. If enacted, the bill is likely to encourage violent and even lethal conflict in the context of protests. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 6 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): riot, stand your ground

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New Jersey

S 3261: New penalties for blocking traffic and other protest-adjacent conduct

Would make it a felony offense to purposely or recklessly obstruct a public road while engaging in “disorderly conduct” or a “riot,” punishable by up to a year and a half in prison and a $10,000 fine. Both “disorderly conduct” and “riot” are defined broadly under New Jersey law: “Disorderly conduct,” for instance, could include “recklessly creating a risk of public inconvenience” by causing a “hazardous condition,” or using “unreasonably loud and offensively coarse” language in a public place. The bill would also broaden the definition of “riot,” such that a group of five or more people who engage in “disorderly conduct” and cause any damage to property or persons could face riot charges, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and $15,000. Individuals who deface a monument during an unruly protest would also face heightened penalties under the bill: Current law penalizes defacing or damaging any public monument or structure as a disorderly persons offense, subject to six months in jail. The bill would make the same offense a felony punishable by a year and a half in prison and $10,000, if committed during a “riot.” The bill would create new sanctions for protest organizers and patrons, as well: Under the bill, a person who “conspires with others as an organizer, supervisor, financier or manager to commit” one of a number of crimes during a protest would be guilty of “promotion of violent, disorderly assembly” and face enhanced criminal penalties. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 10 Dec 2020.

Issue(s): conspiracy, riot, traffic interference

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New Jersey

A 4991: Heightened penalties for blocking traffic, riot, disorderly conduct, and related offenses

Would create a new offense for blocking a highway or any “other public passage” in the course of a riot or disorderly conduct. The offense would be a fourth-degree crime, punishable by 1.5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. (Under current law, blocking a highway or any other passage is a petty disorderly persons offense, punishable by up to 6 months in jail.) The bill would also create a new offense for disorderly conduct committed during a riot in a “place of public accommodation.” The offense would also be a fourth-degree crime. The bill would create a new offense for “desecration of venerable objects” during a riot--also a fourth-degree crime. “Venerable objects” includes “any public monument, insignia, symbol, or structure,” and “desecrate” includes "defacing" as well as “toppling.” New Jersey currently defines “riot” as participation in disorderly conduct by a group of five or more people with an unlawful purpose. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 16 Nov 2020.

Issue(s): riot, traffic interference

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New Jersey

AB 3760: 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, and again in 2018 as AB 2853. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 6 Mar 2020.

Issue(s): damage costs, riot

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New Jersey

A 5731: Mandatory penalties for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill requires all public institutions of higher education to adopt a policy that bars members of the campus community from engaging in conduct that “materially and substantially disrupts another person’s expressive activity or infringes on the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity.” Under the required policy, any member of the campus community that has twice materially and substantially disrupted the expressive rights of others--such as by protesting a controversial speaker--must be given a minimum punishment of a one-term suspension. If a lesser punishment is imposed, the institution has to submit an explanation in writing to the institution’s Committee on Free Expression. The bill also requires that “a range of disciplinary sanctions” be imposed for anyone under the jurisdiction of the institution who materially and substantially disrupts the free expression of others. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 23 Aug 2019.

Issue(s): campus speech

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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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New York

A 5121: Heightened penalties for "incitement to riot"

Would increase the penalty for incitement to riot from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony, punishable by up to 4 years in prison. Under current New York law, a person can be convicted of inciting a riot if “he urges ten or more persons to engage in tumultuous and violent conduct of a kind likely to create public alarm.” The bill does not define what “urges” could include; similar language has been found by courts to be unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 11 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): riot

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New York

A 11069: Heightened Penalties for Riot and Incitement to Riot

Would enhance the penalties for first and second degree “riot” as well as “incitement to riot.” Under New York Law, “incitement to riot” is broadly defined, and could cover a person or organization found to have “urged” a group of people to protest in a “tumultuous and violent” way. The bill would make the offense a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison, instead of a Class A misdemeanor. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 7 Oct 2020.

Issue(s): riot

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New York

A 10603: Heightened penalties for “riot” and “incitement to riot” by non-residents

Would heighten the penalties for “riot” and “incitement to riot” for defendants who are not New York residents, by creating two new criminal offenses. Under the bill, a non-resident who either commits “riot in the second degree” or “incitement to riot” is guilty of “travel to riot in the second degree,” a Class E felony. Notably, New York law broadly defines “riot in the second degree” to include “tumultuous and violent conduct” with four or more people that “intentionally or recklessly… creates a grave risk of causing public alarm.” A person is guilty of “incitement to riot” under New York law if he or she “urges” ten or more people “to engage in tumultuous and violent conduct of a kind likely to create public alarm.” The bill creates an additional Class D felony for non-residents who commit first-degree riot. The bill was proposed after widespread protests in New York City following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 5 Jun 2020.

Issue(s): riot

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North Carolina

HB 966: Limitations on teachers' ability to protest

Would restrict public school teachers' ability to use personal leave in order to protest. The provisions, proposed as part of a budget package, would prohibit schools from granting teachers leave on a school day unless they could confirm that a substitute teacher was available. Lawmakers introduced the provisions ahead of a Wednesday, May 1 rally expected to be attended by thousands of teachers from across the state, to protest for increased education funding.

Note: This provision teachers' personal leave was attached to an appropriations bill. The bill eventually was enacted, but this provision was removed in its entirety. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 26 Apr 2019.

Issue(s): strikes

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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 for individuals who protest near existing and planned gas and oil pipelines by criminalizing acts that interrupt or interfere with critical infrastructure facilities. In addition to prohibiting actual tampering with critical infrastructure property and equipment, the law prohibits “interfering, inhibiting, impeding, or preventing the construction or repair” of a critical infrastructure facility. Further, the law 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 critical infrastructure facility, including by interfering with pipeline construction, is a Class C felony under the law, subject to a penalty of five years' imprisonment, a fine of $10,000, or both. The law 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): conspiracy, infrastructure

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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 1240: Restitution penalty for offenses related to “riot”

Would permit a court to order restitution as an additional penalty for riot-related offenses. Under the bill, a person guilty of engaging in or inciting a “riot,” or failure to obey law enforcement’s orders “during a riot,” may be ordered to make restitution for any property “damaged or destroyed in the course of the riot.” The bill does not require that a restitution order be linked to an individual’s direct responsibility for the damaged property. A bystander at the scene of a protest that was deemed a “riot,” for instance, who does not comply with a police officer’s orders, could face not only up to one year in jail (the penalty under current law) but also be charged with the cost of replacing property that was damaged by other protesters. “Riot” is defined under North Dakota law as a “public disturbance involving an assemblage of five or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government function.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 11 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, riot

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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: defeated / expired

Introduced 15 Feb 2017; Issued 15 Feb 2017

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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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North Dakota

HB 1193: Expanding Traffic Interference to Commercial Activity and Creating a New Crime of Causing Economic Harm

Would expand traffic interference to include obstructing a private facility or private commercial equipment. Would also create a new Class C felony offense of committing a misdemeanor with the intent to cause "economic harm" of greater than $1,000 to the government or a private individual. Economic harm does not include law enforcement costs and the law does not apply to constitutionally protected activity. A Class C felony is punishable by up to five years in jail or a $10,000 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Jan 2017; Passed by House 2 February 2017; Failed to Pass Senate 28 March 2017

Issue(s): damage costs, traffic interference

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Ohio

SB 33: New penalties for protests near critical infrastructure

The law heightens penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure by expanding the definitions of "criminal trespass" and "criminal mischief." The law 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 and "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 law 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: enacted

Introduced 12 Feb 2019; Approved by Senate 1 May 2019; Approved by House 17 December 2020; Signed by Governor DeWine 11 January 2021

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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Ohio

HB 109: Heightened penalties for blocking traffic and other conduct during protests, and new liability for organizations involved in protests

Would heighten potential penalties for protesters who block traffic, by providing that engaging in “disorderly conduct” by blocking a public street or highway is a 3rd degree felony (instead of a minor misdemeanor) if it occurs during a “riot”, or during a protest that was not granted a permit or one for which the scope of the permit was exceeded. Existing law defines “disorderly conduct” broadly, as “recklessly caus[ing] inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm,” through means including “making unreasonable noise” or “hindering” movement of people on streets. “Riot” is also broadly defined under existing law as participating with four or more people in “disorderly conduct” with an unlawful purpose – to commit a misdemeanor, impede a government function, or interfere with lawful activities at an educational institution. The bill creates a new offense of “harassment in a place of public accommodation,” defined as recklessly "harassing" or "intimidating" another at a place of public accommodation while engaged in a “riot”. The offense is a 1st degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The bill creates a new offense for “riot vandalism,” for “recklessly” causing physical harm to property that is owned or leased by a government entity, or that is a monument, tomb, or “similar structure.” The new offense is a 5th degree felony, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine. The bill also provides that someone who causes any property damage or injury while committing “riot” is guilty of a 4th degree felony (instead of a 1st degree misdemeanor), punishable by a year and a half in prison and a $5,000 fine. The bill would introduce new potential felony penalties and civil liability for individuals and organizations involved in funding or organizing protests that are deemed “riots”. Under the bill, an organization whose associates engage in, attempt, or conspire to engage in providing “material support” to another to “plan, prepare, carry out, or aid” a “riot,” or to “organize[] persons” to engage in a “riot,” would be committing “corrupt activity,” which could trigger 2nd degree felony charges, punishable by up to eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The organization could also be liable for property damage that resulted and the cost of law enforcement involved in investigating and prosecuting the offense. These provisions could affect organizations that are even tangentially involved in protest activity. Finally, the bill would allow police to sue individuals for injury or property loss resulting from the individual's role in an “unlawful assembly” or “riot”. Organizations that provide “material support” to the individuals would also be civilly liable, for treble damages. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 16 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, conspiracy, traffic interference

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Ohio

SB 41: Charging protesters for the cost of property damage and the cost of law enforcement to respond to a protest

Would require that anyone convicted of "riot" or "aggravated riot" pay restitution for any property damage in addition to other penalties imposed. Additionally, the bill would allow law enforcement and other public agencies to seek reimbursement from a protester for all costs the agency incurred in responding to a “potential serious threat to public safety”—defined to include a “validated report” report that two or more people are committing vandalism, “criminal mischief,” or “aggravated riot.” The agency could seek court-ordered reimbursement from anyone convicted of committing any misdemeanor or felony offense “in connection with” a “potential serious threat to public safety.” In other words, the bill would allow a police department to seek compensation from a protester who was convicted of a simple misdemeanor, for the time spent by officers in responding to a report of “aggravated riot,” even if no “aggravated riot” occurred. The bill would also create a new felony offense for vandalism on government property. Under the bill, intentionally “defacing, painting” or otherwise “marking upon” property owned, leased, or controlled by the government, even if only in a temporary manner, is a fifth degree felony, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine. Finally, the bill makes planning or "aiding in planning" vandalism of government property a new conspiracy offense—a first degree misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 2 Feb 2021.

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

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Ohio

SB 16: New penalties for protesters who block traffic, and for protest funders and organizers

Would create new penalties for protests that took place on or spilled onto streets, sidewalks, or any other “public passage.” The bill provides that it is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months year in jail and a $1,000 fine, to “impede” or render any public passage “impassable without unreasonable inconvenience” after being asked by an authority to stop. If the offense occurs as part of a “riot,” it is a fifth degree felony, punishable by one year in prison and a $2,500 fine. Ohio law defines “riot” to include engaging in “disorderly conduct” with four or more persons with the purpose of committing a misdemeanor, or to “hinder, impede, or obstruct a function of government”—a definition broad enough to cover peaceful protests. The bill would also introduce new potential felony penalties and civil liability for individuals and organizations involved in funding or organizing protests that are deemed “riots.” Under the bill, an organization whose associates engage in, attempt, or conspire to engage in providing “material support” to another to “plan, prepare, carry out, or aid” a “riot,” or to “organize[] persons” to engage in a “riot,” would be committing “corrupt activity,” which could trigger second class felony charges, punishable by up to eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The organization could also be liable for property damage that resulted and the cost of law enforcement involved in investigating and prosecuting the offense. These provisions could affect organizations that are even tangentially involved in protest activity, as “material support” could cover donor funding to advocacy groups that engage in protests, or trainings for activists about peaceful protest tactics. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 26 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): conspiracy, riot, traffic interference

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Ohio

HB 784: Excusing use of deadly force against protesters and heightening penalties for road-blocking protests

The bill would create a new civil and criminal defense for anyone who uses force, including deadly force, to escape from a "riot." The bill would excuse a person who "reasonably believes" they are in danger of imminent injury from a riot, from taking "any steps necessary to flee," and would justify their "using or threatening to use reasonable force, including deadly force, to escape." The provision could encourage the use of violence against protesters. The bill would also create steep new penalties for interfering with or blocking traffic during an unpermitted protest. "Hindering or preventing movement" of persons on roads (a minor misdemeanor under current law) would become a third degree felony, punishable by up to 3 years in prison and $10,000, if it occurred during a protest that had not received a permit, or a protest that exceeded its issued permit. The bill would also enable law enforcement officers to sue protesters and any organizational supporters of protests if the officers suffered injury or property damage as a result of a riot. Ohio law defines "riot" to include engaging in "disorderly conduct" (including "recklessly caus[ing] inconvenience [or] annoyance") with four or more persons "to hinder, impede, or obstruct a function of government"—a definition broad enough to cover peaceful protests. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Nov 2020.

Issue(s): driver immunity, riot, traffic interference

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Ohio

HB 362: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would broadly prohibit the wearing of masks or other disguises in certain circumstances during protests. Like HB 423, introduced in the 2017-2018 session, 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 8 Oct 2019.

Issue(s): face coverings

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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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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

HB 1674: Penalties for protesters who block traffic, immunity for drivers who hit protesters, and liability for organizations that work with protesters

Would create new penalties for protesters who obstruct traffic while participating in a “riot.” Under the bill, a person who participates in a “riot” and “knowingly and willfully obstructed” the “normal use” of a public street or highway, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison, a $5,000 fine, and restitution for any property damage that occured. The bill defines “obstruct” to include rendering the street or highway “unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous.” “Riot” is broadly defined under Oklahoma law, to include a group of three or more people who make “any threat to use force.” The bill also shields from liability a driver who injures or kills someone while “fleeing from a riot,” as long as they did so “unintentionally” and held a “reasonable belief” that they needed to flee to protect themselves. Under the bill, such a driver cannot be held civilly or criminally liable for the injuries or death they caused. Finally, the bill provides that an organization found to have “conspired” with individuals who are found guilty of certain offenses—"unlawful assembly,” “riot,” “incitement to riot,” refusing to aid in the arrest of a “rioter,” and remaining at the scene of a “riot” after being ordered to disperse—will be fined ten times the maximum amount of fine authorized for the individual’s offense. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 2 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, conspiracy, driver immunity, riot, traffic interference

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Oklahoma

HB 1561: Steep penalties for obstructing traffic, and elimination of liability for drivers who hit protesters

Would create new felony penalties for protests that take place on or spill onto streets and highways. Under the bill, a person who “willfully obstructed” the “normal use” of a public street or highway is guilty of a felony, punishable by up to 2 years in prison. The bill defines “obstruct” to include rendering passage on the street or highway “unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous.” The bill also shields from liability a driver who injures or kills someone while “fleeing from a riot,” as long as they did so “unintentionally” and held a “reasonable belief” that they needed to flee to protect themselves. Such a driver cannot be held civilly or criminally liable. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 1 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): driver immunity, traffic interference

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Oklahoma

HB 1565: Mandatory dismissal of state employees convicted of protest offenses

The bill requires that employees of the state who are convicted of “incitement to riot” or “unlawful assembly” must be terminated from their job, and barred from future employment with any government entity. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 1 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): riot

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Oklahoma

HB 1578: New penalties for vandalism and "annoying" or "alarming" conduct during a “riot”

Would create a new felony offense for participating in a “riot” and “vandalizing” or “defacing” any structure owned by a government entity. The offense is punishable by at least 2 and up to 10 years in prison. The bill does not define “vandalize” or “deface." The bill also creates a new misdemeanor offense for intentionally causing “annoyance" or "alarm" at a public accommodation, during a "riot," through “tumultuous” or “threatening” behavior or “abusive language.” The offense is punishable by a minimum of one year in jail. “Riot” is broadly defined under Oklahoma law, to include a group of three or more people who make “any threat to use force.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 1 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): riot

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Oklahoma

HB 2094: Allowing lawsuits against the state for failure to aggressively respond to protests

Would waive the state’s immunity from civil lawsuits for damage caused by protests in certain cases. Under the bill, the state and its subdivisions would be liable to claims for damages if they failed to take “reasonable action” to mitigate damage or injury resulting from a “riot” or “civil disobedience,” or made a decision or established a policy “to allow” civil disobedience and riots. If enacted, the bill could encourage state and local governments to adopt overly aggressive law enforcement responses to protests and acts of civil disobedience, in order to avoid lawsuits. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 21 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): riot, state liability

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Oklahoma

HB 2096: Steep penalties for vandalism of public property during a protest

Would create a new offense that could cover nondestructive acts of expression during protests. The bill provides that anyone who participated in a “riot” and willfully “vandalized or defaced” a government-owned structure or building, is guilty of a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. “Riot” is broadly defined under Oklahoma law, to include a group of three or more people who make “any threat to use force.” “Vandalize” and “deface” are not defined, and could cover chalk drawings or artwork posted with temporary adhesive. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 21 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): riot

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Oklahoma

HB 2215: Immunity for drivers who hit protesters and an expanded definition of “incitement to riot”

Would shield a driver who unintentionally injured or killed someone while “fleeing from a riot” if the driver had the “reasonable belief” that fleeing was necessary to avoid injury. If enacted, the bill would allow a driver to evade civil damages and criminal penalties for hitting and even killing a protester, as long as the injury or death was “unintended” and they had a “reasonable” fear of injury. The bill also substantially broadens the definition of “incitement to riot,” a felony offense. Under the bill, a person who intends to aid or abet a “riot” and who in any way “urges” another to “interfere” with a police officer; “obstruct” the entrance to a private business; or “obstruct” any street or highway would be guilty of “incitement to riot”—a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. “Riot” is broadly defined under Oklahoma law, to include a group of three or more people who make “any threat to use force.” The terms “interfere” and “obstruct” are not defined, and as such the offense could include showing support for a peacefully protest that even temporarily pauses traffic. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 21 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): driver immunity, riot, traffic interference

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Oklahoma

HB 2464: Heightened penalties for protests that block traffic

Would create a new felony offense for anyone who participates in a “riot” and intentionally “obstructs” traffic. The bill does not define “obstruct,” nor does it limit the locations where such obstruction might take place. According to the bill, an individual in a protest that is deemed a “riot” who pauses traffic on a private road or in a public parking lot could be guilty of a felony and face up to 5 years in prison. “Riot” is broadly defined under Oklahoma law, to include a group of three or more people who make “any threat to use force.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 21 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): riot, traffic interference

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Oklahoma

SB 806: New penalties for protests that block traffic and organizations that support unlawful protests

Would newly add “riot” and “unlawful assembly” to the underlying crimes that can be prosecuted for “racketeering activity” under Oklahoma’s RICO statute. “Racketeering” includes attempt, conspiracy, and solicitation. As such, under the bill, an organization or individual found to have “conspired” with others to engage in a protest that is deemed a “riot” or “unlawful assembly” could be prosecuted under RICO. Violations under the RICO statute are a felony, punishable by at least 10 years in prison and a steep fine. This provision would likely discourage non-profit organizations among others from engaging with or supporting protest organizers or participants, out of concern that they could be caught up in a RICO prosecution. The bill would also make it a misdemeanor to “block” or “restrict” traffic on any public highway or street “as a result of a riot” or “unlawful assembly.” The offense would be punishable by up to one year in jail, a $500 fine, at least 40 hours of community service, and restitution for any property damage. The bill would also require that anyone convicted of participation in a “riot,” “rout,” or “unlawful assembly” pay restitution for any property damage resulting from the offense, and perform at least 40 hours of community service. The new penalties would apply to individuals who remained at the scene after being lawfully warned to disperse, and those who continued to participate when a lawful assembly became a “riot.” “Riot” is broadly defined under Oklahoma law, to include a group of three or more people who make “any threat to use force;” “unlawful assembly” is likewise broadly defined, and includes a group of three or more who gather without lawful authority in a manner “as is adapted to disturb the public peace.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 21 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): damage costs, conspiracy, riot, traffic interference

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Oklahoma

SB 15: Mandatory restitution for property damage during unlawful assembly or riot

Would require courts to order individuals convicted of participation in a riot, incitement to riot, or participation in an unlawful assembly to pay restitution for any property damage or loss caused by the offense. Under the bill's provisions, individuals could be ordered to pay for damage that they did not personally cause, if a gathering they were part of was declared unlawful or a riot. Oklahoma law also broadly defines "riot" and "unlawful assembly," for instance giving broad discretion to authorities to label as an "unlawful assembly" a group of four or more people who gather without a permit "in such a manner as is adapted to disturb the public peace." (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 17 Nov 2020.

Issue(s): damage costs, riot

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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: defeated / expired

Introduced 18 Jan 2019.

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

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Oregon

HB 4126: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would make it a Class B felony to “partially or fully conceal[]” one’s face while engaged in a riot, in order to “facilitate commission” of the riot. A Class B felony in Oregon is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The bill would also direct courts to consider an individual’s concealment of their face an aggravating factor during sentencing. Under Oregon law, a person can be convicted of rioting if “while participating with five or more other persons the person engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creates a grave risk of causing public alarm.” Given the vagueness of the underlying riot definition, extreme penalties such as those envisioned in the bill could have a chilling effect on nonviolent protesters who want to remain anonymous or use a mask to make a political or social statement. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 28 Jan 2020.

Issue(s): face coverings, riot

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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 887: New penalties for protests near "critical infrastructure"

Would heighten potential penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other critical infrastructure by creating a new offense of "critical infrastructure facility trespass.” According to the bill, entering or merely attempting to enter property containing a critical infrastructure facility, without permission of the property owner, would be a third degree felony punishable by up to one year in prison; remaining at the facility after being ordered to leave would be a second degree felony, likewise punishable by up to one year in prison. Entering a critical infrastructure facility with the intent to “damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, tamper with equipment or impede or inhibit operations of the facility,” would be a second degree felony punishable by imprisonment for up to one year. It would also be a second degree felony, subject to one year’s imprisonment, to “conspire[] with another person to commit” any of the above offences. An individual who commits any of the offenses a second time would face penalties of the next felony degree. The law newly defines “critical infrastructure facility” under Pennsylvania law to include a broad range of oil, gas, electric, water, telecommunications, and railroad facilities, such as gas and oil pipelines “buried or above ground.” The definition of “critical infrastructure facility” applies to facilities “constructed or under construction,” and includes “equipment and machinery, regardless of whether stored on location or at a storage yard, to the extent that it is used to construct a critical infrastructure facility.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 7 Oct 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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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: defeated / expired

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 5001: New penalties for protesters who block traffic

Would introduce new felony penalties for protesters who block highway traffic. The bill creates a new “unlawful interference with traffic” offense for anyone who “stands, sits, kneels, or otherwise loiters” on a highway, causing “obstruction, distraction, or delay” of any motorist. The offense is a felony, punishable by a minimum of one and up to 3 years in prison. A second conviction for the offense is punishable by at least 3 and up to 5 years, and a third conviction is punishable by at least 5 and up to 10 years. If the interference causes the “obstruction, distraction, or delay” of an emergency vehicle, and results in death, anyone convicted of participating in the interference will be sentenced to at least 5 and up to 30 years in prison. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 8 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): traffic interference

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Rhode Island

H 7543: New Penalties for Protesters Who Conceal Their Identity

Would make it unlawful for a person to wear protective equipment, such as a "gas mask", "kneepads", "riot helmets", "face visors", or "vests" during a demonstration, rally, or parade. It also bans wearing "a mask or disguise with the specific intent to intimidate or threaten another person". A violation of the Act would be punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $1000 fine. The broad language in the Act could be used to ban a range of masks and equipment that could be part of the expressive component of a demonstration. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 12 Feb 2020.

Issue(s): face coverings

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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

HB 3491: New penalties for protesters, and a shield for those who commit violence against them

Would create new penalties for offenses that could encompass conduct by peaceful protesters. The bill newly criminalizes the blocking of a street, sidewalk, or “any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles or conveyances.” Accordingly, protesters who obstruct or make it “unreasonably inconvenient” to use a street or sidewalk could face up to three years in jail. The bill also targets protest encampments on the grounds outside government buildings, by broadly defining “camping,” and prohibiting camping on state property that is not designated for camping. As such, protesters who use any “piece of furniture” or erect tarps or other shelters on state property could be charged with a felony, if they continue to do so 24 hours after receiving a warning. The bill amends South Carolina’s law on “rioting” to require that anyone convicted of rioting—including “by being personally present [at], or by instigating, promoting, or aiding” a riot—be ordered to pay restitution “for any property damage or loss incurred as a result.” Protesters could thus be liable for property damage that they did not cause, but were “present” for. Finally, the bill would create new criminal and civil immunity for a person who uses deadly force or points a firearm when “confronted by a mob,” where “mob” is broadly defined. The provision may encourage the use of force and the incidence of violent confrontations in the context of protests. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 16 Dec 2020.

Issue(s): damage costs, conspiracy, riot, traffic interference, camping

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South Carolina

HB 5045: New penalties for non-student protesters on school and college campuses

Would make it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine, for a person who is not a student to “willfully interfere with, disrupt, or disturb the normal operations of a school or college” by entering the grounds of an educational institution without permission; being “loud or boisterous” after being instructed not to be; refusing to vacate a building, facility, or grounds of a public or private education facility after being directed to do so; engaging in “sitting, kneeling, lying down, or inclining” so as to obstruct an ingress after being told not to; or disrupting teaching or engaging in conduct that disturbs the peace at an educational institution or grounds adjacent to it. The bill would not only cover members of the public, but also faculty, staff, and affiliates of the educational institution who are not students. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 29 Jan 2020.

Issue(s): campus speech

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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: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): campus speech, state liability

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South Dakota

SB 151: New penalties for protests near pipelines and other infrastructure

Would heighten the penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure. Under the bill, knowingly trespassing on property containing a critical infrastructure facility is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in prison and a $2000 fine. Knowingly tampering with any property and as a direct result either causing “substantial interruption or impairment” to a critical infrastructure facility or interfering, inhibiting, or impeding the maintenance or construction of a critical infrastructure facility is a felony punishable by two years in prison and/or a $4000 fine. Knowingly tampering or interfering with the operation or maintenance of a critical infrastructure facility that causes physical injury or death is punishable by ten years in prison and a $20,000 fine. A person or organization found to be a “conspirator” in any of the above provision faces a range of criminal fines. Any owner, lessee, or operator of any critical infrastructure facility where a crime is committed under one of the above provisions is designated a “victim” under South Dakota law, which entitles them to restitution and a set of victims’ rights. As such, a company that owns a critical infrastructure facility can seek restitution from a person convicted of any of the above provisions as well as from any conspirator. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 4 Feb 2020; Approved by Senate 27 February 2020; Approved by House 9 March 2020; Signed by Governor March 18 2020

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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South Dakota

HB 1117: New criminal and civil liability for "incitement to riot"

Would revise the state’s laws on rioting and replace a “riot-boosting” law that was passed last year but later blocked by a federal court as unconstitutional. The bill would revise the definition of “riot” under South Dakota law to be “any intentional use of force or violence by three or more persons, acting together and without authority of law, to cause any injury to any person or any damage to property.” Under the bill, “incitement to riot” would be a new felony offense, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines, and defined as conduct that “urges” three or more people to use force or violence to cause personal injury or property damage, if the force or violence is “imminent” and the urging is likely to “incite or produce” the force or violence. The bill defines “urging” to include “instigating, inciting, or directing,” but excludes “oral or written advocacy of ideas or expression of belief that does not urge… imminent force or violence.” Under the bill, individuals could additionally be civilly liable for riot and incitement to riot, enabling lawsuits against protesters by the state, counties, or municipalities. Both last year’s "riot-boosting" law and HB 1117 appear to target planned protests against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 29 Jan 2020; Approved by House 18 February 2020; Approved by Senate 5 March 2020; Signed by Governor Noem 23 March 2020

Issue(s): riot

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South Dakota

SB 189: Expanded civil liability for protesters and protest funders

**Note: According to an October 24, 2019 settlement agreement that resulted from a constitutional challenge to SB189, the state will not enforce many of the provisions of the law that could be applied to peaceful protesters and organizations that support them.**
SB189 created new civil liability for “riot boosters.” South Dakota criminal law defines “riot” broadly such that it can cover some forms of peaceful protest; as originally enacted, SB189 created civil liability for a person or organization that “does not personally participate in any riot but directs, advises, encourages, or solicits other persons participating in the riot to acts of force or violence.” It was unclear what might have constituted “advice” or “encouragement” to carry out an act of force, such that an individual who shouted encouragement on the sidelines of a disruptive protest, or organizations that provided advice about conducting a peaceful but disruptive protest, might have been implicated. Following the October 24, 2019 settlement, the state will not enforce this provision.

Nonetheless, enforceable provisions of the law still establish civil liability for any person or organization that is advised or encouraged by another, and that “makes any threat to use force or violence, if accompanied by immediate power of execution” in a group of three or more persons. The state or a third party may sue the person or organization for extensive civil damages, including punitive damages. Further, enforceable provisions of the law provide that a person or organization is liable for “riot boosting” if they engage in it personally “or through any employee, agent, or subsidiary.” Accordingly, individuals, organizations, and funders may still be held civilly liable for substantial amounts of money for any involvement in a disruptive protest. Damages recovered by the state shall, according to the law, be deposited in a “riot boosting recovery fund,” which may be used to pay for the state’s response to disruptive protests. (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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South Dakota

HB 1288: New Powers to Suspend State Agency Rules during Protests

Would add “protests” and “disorderly conduct” to a list of disasters that could allow the Governor to suspend the rules of a state agency. Under the bill, the Governor could suspend the rules of any state agency if there is an emergency beyond local government capacity and the provisions of the rule would in “any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action” in managing protests or disorderly conduct. In South Dakota, “disorderly conduct” includes “making unreasonable noise” or obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic. This change would make it easier for the Governor to suspend state agency rules in response to protests. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 6 Feb 2020.

Issue(s): state of emergency, traffic interference

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Tennessee

HB 8005/SB 8005: Heightened Penalties for "Inconvenient" Protests and Protest Camps on State Property

The law heightens penalties for certain offenses that could encompass conduct by peaceful protesters. The law heightens existing criminal penalties for blocking a street, sidewalk, or “any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles or conveyances” – from a Class C to a Class A misdemeanor. Accordingly, protesters who obstruct or make it “unreasonably inconvenient” to use a street or sidewalk could face up to one year in jail. The law likewise heightens penalties for the existing offense of “obstructing” or “interfering with” a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering, from a Class B to Class A misdemeanor. Protesters who intentionally “interfere with” a meeting of the legislature or other government officials, including by staging a loud protest, could therefore face up to one year in jail. The law also targets protest encampments on the grounds of the Capitol and other areas by broadening the definition of “camping,” and heightening penalties for camping on state property. As such, protesters who use or place any “piece of furniture,” shelter, or structure on state property could be charged with a Class E felony, if they continue to do so 24 hours after receiving a warning. The offense would be punishable by up to six years in prison, a fine of $3,000, and restitution for any property damage. The law also amends Tennessee provisions on “riot,” (which is defined broadly), including by requiring those convicted of “inciting” or “urging” a riot to pay restitution for any property damage incurred by the offense. When it was introduced, the legislation authorized the Tennessee Attorney General to intervene and prosecute offenses where there has been damage to state property, including those arising in the context of peaceful protests, if the district attorney declined to do so; however those provisions were removed prior to the law's enactment, and replaced with a requirement that district attorneys produce a report on such offenses and how they were dealt with. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 7 Aug 2020; Approved by House and Senate 12 August 2020; Signed by Governor Lee 20 August 2020

Issue(s): damage costs, riot, traffic interference, camping

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Tennessee

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

Creates new potential penalties for protests and demonstrations that "interrupt" or "interfere with" a pipeline or pipeline construction site. The law makes it a Class E felony for an individual to knowingly "destroy, injure, interrupt or interfere with" a pipeline, pipeline facility, or related infrastructure, including if it is under construction. The offense is a Class E felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a $3,000 fine. As introduced, the law provided that an individual or organization that causes or “aids” damage or interference would likewise be guilty of a Class E felony, however these provisions were amended out prior to the law's passage. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 29 Jan 2019; Approved by Senate 18 Feb 2019; Approved by House 30 April 2019; Signed by Governor Lee 10 May 2019

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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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 451 / HB 881: Mandatory penalties for expanded “aggravated riot” offense

Would expand the definition of “aggravated riot” and create new mandatory minimum penalties for that offense. To be convicted of “riot” under current Tennessee law, a person only needs to knowingly gather with two or more people whose tumultuous and violent conduct creates “grave danger of substantial damage to property or serious bodily injury to persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other governmental function.” For instance, one could be held guilty of “riot” for merely joining a large protest in which there is isolated pushing, even if no one is injured. Under current law, a person commits “aggravated riot” if they participate in a “riot” and someone is injured or substantial property damage occurs, even if the person did not commit any violence or intend violence to occur. Under the proposed bill, a person would also be guilty of “aggravated riot” if they participate in a “riot” and either participated “in exchange for compensation,” or “traveled from outside the state with the intent to commit a criminal offense.” A “criminal offense” could include, for example, temporarily blocking a street as part of a protest. “Aggravated riot” is a Class E felony, which is punishable by up to 6 years in jail and a fine of $3,000; the bill introduces a mandatory minimum of at least 45 days of imprisonment. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 8 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): riot

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Tennessee

HB 513: New penalties for protesters who block traffic, and criminal immunity for drivers who hit them

Would significantly increase the penalty for intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly “obstructing” a sidewalk, street, or other public passage, elevating it from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class E felony. As such, the offense would be punishable by up to 6 years in prison, and the bill would additionally impose a mandatory $3,000 fine. Under the bill, a driver who injures or kills someone who is intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly “obstructing” a sidewalk, street, or other public passage, is immune from prosecution, as long as he was exercising “due care” and the injury or death was not intentional. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 4 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): driver immunity, traffic interference

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Tennessee

HB 513 / SB 843: Heightened penalties for protesters who block sidewalks and streets

Would increase the penalty for knowingly or recklessly obstructing a sidewalk, street, or “or any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles or conveyances.” Instead of a Class A misdemeanor, the offense would be a Class E felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of $3,000. The bill would also immunize from prosecution a person who hits a protester with their car, if the protester was obstructing a sidewalk, street, or “or any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles or conveyances,” and the driver hit them unintentionally and was “exercising due care.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 4 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): driver immunity, traffic interference

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Tennessee

SB 1750: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would penalize protesters who wear masks or other face coverings. As introduced, the bill would make it a criminal offense for a person to wear a mask, hood, or device that covers a portion of their face and intentionally conceals their identity, on public property or private property without the owner’s permission. The bill does not require that the person be committing some other unlawful act while concealing their identity. The offense would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The original version of the bill includes four exemptions: “traditional holiday costumes;” “lawfully engag[ing] in a trade, profession, occupation or sporting activity” that requires a mask, hood, or other device; theatrical productions, parades, and masquerade balls; and gas masks. Other expressive, First Amendment activity is not explicitly exempted. The bill was withdrawn the day after it was introduced. A co-sponsor of the bill said that it was "intended to target protesters and demonstrators who might commit crimes,” and that they would file a “clarified version" of the bill soon. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 21 Jan 2020.

Issue(s): face coverings

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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

HB 3557: New criminal and civil penalties for protests around critical infrastructure

Creates new criminal sanctions and expansive civil liability for protests near pipelines and other infrastructure facilities, including those under construction. The law provides for four new criminal offenses. One, "impairing or interrupting operation of critical infrastructure facility," is defined as entering or remaining on facility property and intentionally or knowingly "impair[ing] or interrupt[ing] the operation of" the facility. The act is a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. This provision could target peaceful protests that, e.g., hinder access to pipelines or pipeline construction sites. A second offense, "intent to impair or interrupt critical infrastructure," is defined as entering or remaining on facility property "with the intent to impair or interrupt the operation of the facility." The act is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. This provision could capture peaceful protests that take place near a pipeline or other infrastructure facility, regardless of whether they actually impair or interrupt the facility's operations. The law also creates two new felony offenses for "damage" and "intent to damage" critical infrastructure. Under the law, an association that is found guilty of any of the offenses around critical infrastructure is subject to a $500,000 fine. The law also creates new civil and vicarious liability for individuals and organizations related to the criminal offenses: A defendant who engages in conduct covered by any of the criminal offenses is civilly liable to the property owner, as is an organization that “knowingly compensates" a person for engaging in the conduct. The property owner may sue for and claim actual damages, court costs, and exemplary damages. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 6 Mar 2019; Approved by House 7 May 2019; Approved by Senate 20 May 2019; Signed by Governor Abbott 14 June 2019

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure

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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: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Mar 2019.

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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Texas

HB 2100: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill was amended after it was introduced, to require public colleges and universities to adopt a policy establishing disciplinary sanctions for students or student groups who "materially and substantially interfere with the rights of others to engage in, observe, or listen to expressive activities on campus." "Materially and substantially interfere" is not defined. According to the requisite policy, any student found to have twice interfered with another's "expressive activities," for instance through a protest, must be suspended for at least one semester. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Mar 2019; Approved by House 30 April 2019

Issue(s): campus speech

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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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Utah

SB 173: Criminal penalties for protests that disturb legislative or other government meetings

Would create new criminal penalties for individuals protesting convenings of the legislature or other meetings of government officials. The bill expands “disorderly conduct” to include a person that recklessly causes public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm by making “unreasonable noises” at an official meeting or in a private place that can be heard at an official meeting. Similarly, disorderly conduct is defined to include obstructing pedestrian traffic at an official meeting or refusing to leave an official meeting when asked by law enforcement. The bill also increases the penalty for disorderly conduct with it punishable by a $750 fine on the first offense (an infraction), up to 3 months in jail if one had been warned to cease prohibited conduct (Class C misdemeanor), up to 6 months for a second offense (Class B misdemeanor), and up to 1 year for a third offense (Class A misdemeanor). Accordingly, if adopted, the bill could, for instance, be used to penalize silent protesters who refuse to leave a legislative committee meeting. An earlier version of the bill explicitly made it unlawful to commit even a “single, loud outburst, absent other disruptive conduct, that does not exceed five seconds in length”. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 24 Feb 2020; Approved by Senate 5 March 2020; Approved by House 12 March 2020; Signed by Governor 30 March 2020

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Utah

SB 138: New penalties for protesters who block traffic and immunity for drivers who injure them

Would institute new felony penalties for anyone found guilty of “riot” who intentionally “obstructed” traffic. The offense would be a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. The bill’s revised definition of “riot,” while somewhat narrower than existing law, would still be broad enough to cover protests by three or more people where no violence or property destruction was committed. The bill provides that anyone charged with “riot” may be denied bail. Under the bill, anyone convicted on felony “riot” charges may not be employed by any state or local government entity for five years after the conviction; they also may not receive any state employment benefits during that time. The bill would also eliminate criminal and civil liability of a driver who unintentionally injured or killed someone near a protest. Under the bill, a driver would not be criminally or civilly liable if he injured or killed someone while “fleeing from a riot,” believing that fleeing was necessary to avoid injury and exercising “due care” in doing so. These provisions, if enacted, could encourage reckless driving near protesters and injuries as a result. Finally, the bill waives a local government’s immunity from a lawsuit for instances of “grossly negligent conduct” in which an employee failed to protect property or individuals during a “riot” or “violent assembly.” If enacted, these provisions could encourage municipal governments to adopt overly aggressive law enforcement responses to protests in order to avoid lawsuits. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 28 Jan 2021; Approved by Senate 24 February 2021

Issue(s): driver immunity, riot, traffic interference, state liability

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Virginia

SB 5079: New civil liability for law enforcement agencies that “stand down” during a riot or unlawful assembly

Would allow someone who is injured or sustains any property damage to sue the director of a law enforcement agency, if the person's injuries or damage were incurred as a result of the director ordering law enforcement officers not to take action in response to a riot or unlawful assembly. The bill provides that, in such lawsuits, a plaintiff may recover compensatory damages, punitive damages, and reasonable attorney fees and costs, including costs and reasonable fees for expert witnesses. If enacted, the bill’s proposal would create incentives for law enforcement to use more aggressive, provocative tactics against protesters, including peaceful protesters, in order to avoid a costly lawsuit. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 17 Aug 2020.

Issue(s): damage costs, police response, riot, state liability

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Virginia

SB 5058: Heightened penalties for remaining at an unlawful assembly or riot

Would increase the criminal penalty for remaining at the place of a declared “unlawful assembly” or “riot” after having been lawfully warned to disperse. The penalty would be a Class 1, rather than Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Virginia law defines “unlawful assembly” broadly, to include a gathering of three or more people that “tends to inspire” a “well-grounded fear of serious and immediate breaches of public safety, peace or order.” Peaceful protesters who failed to leave the scene of such a gathering, after being ordered to do so, could accordingly face up to one year in jail. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 17 Aug 2020.

Issue(s): riot

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Virginia

SB 5074: New penalties for protests that block emergency vehicles

Would heighten existing penalties for anyone who “unreasonably or unnecessarily obstructs the delivery of emergency medical services,” or who “refuses to cease such obstruction or move on when requested to do so” from a Class 2 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony, if the violation occurs at the site of a riot or unlawful assembly. Virginia law defines “unlawful assembly” broadly, to include a gathering of three or more people that “tends to inspire” a “well-grounded fear of serious and immediate breaches of public safety, peace or order.” Under the bill, participants in a peaceful street protest who failed or were unable to make way for emergency vehicles, for instance, could face felony charges if their gathering was deemed to be an “unlawful assembly.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 17 Aug 2020.

Issue(s): riot, traffic interference

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Virginia

SB 1308: New penalties for protests on highways

Would heighten penalties for protesters who intentionally disrupt highway traffic. The bill creates a new Class 1 misdemeanor offense, punishable by one year in jail, for “intentionally interfer[ing] with the orderly passage of vehicles” on highways. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 12 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): 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.” A militarized response to protests—particularly if coupled with immunity for injuries those forces commit—has the potential 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: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Aug 2018.

Issue(s): police response, 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

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: defeated / expired

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: defeated / expired

Introduced 12 Aug 2017; Effective until 17 Aug 2017

Issue(s): state of emergency

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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 5456: New penalties for “swarming” a car during a protest, and provision for driver immunity

Would create a new offense, “swarming,” defined as one or more people participating in a protest or demonstration who “knowingly approach, surround, block” or “otherwise unlawfully impede or attempt to impede” the progress of a vehicle on a public street, highway, or parking lot. The offense of “swarming” applies regardless of whether the protest the people were participating in is authorized by a permit or not. It is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine; a subsequent offense is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The bill also provides that a driver who injures someone while trying to avoid or flee from people engaged in “swarming,” “disorderly conduct,” or “criminal mischief” is immune from a civil lawsuit, as long as the injury was unintentional. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 15 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): driver immunity, traffic interference

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Washington

SB 5310: Steep penalties for protesters who block traffic, for protest organizers, and an expansive new “riot” offense

The bill creates a new felony offense that could be levied against protesters who block traffic on a highway. According to the bill, a group of four or more people who make passage on a highway “unreasonably inconvenient” without legal authority to do so, are guilty of “obstructing a highway,” a Class C felony punishable by 5 years in prison and $10,000. The bill also provides civil immunity for a driver who injures or kills someone on the highway if the driver was “reasonably attempting” to avoid or “flee” the person. The bill creates a new felony offense of “leading an organized riot,” an act sufficiently broadly defined to include organizing or supporting a peaceful protest that is deemed unlawful. Under the bill, “organizing, managing, directing, supervising, or financing” a group of three or more people with the intent “to promote the accomplishment of a pattern of criminal mischief,” constitutes “leading an organized riot,” a Class C felony. The bill would newly criminalize “riot,” using a broad definition that could encompass peaceful protesters. The bill defines “riot” to include knowingly and unlawfully participating in an assembly with seven or more people, with “acts of conduct within that group” that create a “substantial risk” of property damage or personal injury. The offense does not require that an individual personally act in a way that threatens personal injury or property damage. For instance, if an individual joins a very large, spontaneous protest that does not have a permit, and someone “within that group” threatens to damage property, the individual could be charged with “riot.” The offense is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Finally, the bill would waive the immunity of any “political subdivision,” including counties, cities, and towns, making them civilly liable for property loss or personal injury resulting from any “riot” or “unlawful assembly” if law enforcement have not exercised “reasonable care or diligence” to prevent or “suppress[]” the riot or assembly. In such an event, the bill provides that the subdivision may be further subject to a fine of $10,000 per day, and lose up to one-half of its share of the state’s “criminal justice assistance account” for up to one year. These provisions, if enacted, could encourage local governments to adopt overly aggressive law enforcement responses to protests, in order to avoid lawsuits. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 20 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): conspiracy, driver immunity, riot, traffic interference, state liability

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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 4615: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would heighten the penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure. Under the bill, knowingly trespassing on property containing a critical infrastructure facility is punishable by a year in jail and a $500 fine. Criminal trespass on critical infrastructure property with intent to "vandalize, deface, tamper with equipment, or impede or inhibit operations" of the facility is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a $1,000 fine. Actually vandalizing, defacing, or tampering with the facility--regardless of actual damage--is a felony punishable by 5 years in prison and a $2,000 fine. An individual convicted of any of the offenses, and any entity that "compensates, provides consideration to or remunerates" a person for committing the offenses, is also civilly liable for any damage sustained. An organization or person found to have "conspired" to commit any of the offenses--regardless of whether they were committed--is subject to a criminal fine. The bill newly defines “critical infrastructure facility” under West Virginia law to include a range of oil, gas, electric, water, telecommunications, and railroad facilities that are fenced off or posted with signs indicating that entry is prohibited. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 30 Jan 2020; Approved by House 13 February 2020; Approved by Senate 7 March 2020; Signed by Governor Justice 25 March 2020

Issue(s): conspiracy, infrastructure, trespass

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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 426: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would create new potential penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other property of "energy providers." The bill expands existing law related to trespass and property damage to broadly include the property of all companies in the oil and gas industry. Under the bill, trespass onto the property of any “company that operates a gas, oil, petroleum, refined petroleum product, renewable fuel, water, or chemical generation, storage, transportation, or delivery system" would be a Class H felony, punishable by six years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Accordingly, protests in a range of locations could be covered, whether on land containing a pipeline or the corporate headquarters of an oil company. Any damage to property of such a company, with the intent to "cause substantial interruption or impairment of any service or good" provided by the company, would likewise be a Class H felony under the bill. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 12 Sep 2019; Approved by Assembly 11 October 2019; Approved by Senate 5 November 2019; Signed by Governor Evers on 21 November 2019

Issue(s): infrastructure, trespass

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Wisconsin

AB 617: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would make it a crime to wear a mask to conceal one's identity when an individual is on a sidewalk, walkway, bike path, highway, or public property. It also makes it a crime to be masked while participating in a "meeting or demonstration" on private property without the permission of the property owner. There are exceptions for wearing a mask for religious beliefs, a holiday costume, protecting oneself from the elements, or because it is part of one's occupation. However, there is no exception for wearing a mask during a demonstration. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 9 months in jail or a $10,000 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 19 Nov 2019.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Wisconsin

AB 444: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would impose mandatory disciplinary measures on student protesters in certain cases. The bill requires that the University of Wisconsin's Board of Regents adopt a policy that includes a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone under an institution’s jurisdiction who engages in “violent or other disorderly conduct that materially and substantially disrupts the free expression of others.” The bill further requires universities in the state system to suspend for at least one semester any student “who has twice been found responsible for interfering with the expressive rights of others.” If a student is found responsible for such interference a third time, they must be expelled. As a result, rowdy protests in public areas of campus that, for instance, made it difficult to hear a speech, would be banned and its participants liable to penalties. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 13 Sep 2019; Approved by House on 11 February 2020

Issue(s): campus speech

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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

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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 civil 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.