US Protest Law Tracker

The US Protest Law Tracker follows state and federal legislation introduced since January 2017 that restricts the right to peaceful assembly. For more information, visit our Analysis of US Anti-Protest Bills page.

45 states have
considered
288 bills
42 enacted 27 pending

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation

Latest updates: Feb. 28, 2024 (Louisiana, New York), Feb. 23, 2024 (Florida), Feb. 22, 2024 (Alaska)
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Alabama

SB 17 / HB 21: New Penalties for Protests Near Gas and Oil Pipelines

Expands the definition of "critical infrastructure" under Alabama law to include pipelines and mining operations. Individuals are prohibited from unauthorized entry onto critical infrastructure, defined as intentionally entering a posted area of critical infrastructure; the offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $6,000. The law also expands the definition of "person" to include nonprofits, creating the possibility that nonprofits who provide support or organizing for environmental protests near critical infrastructure where individuals then trespass could face organizational liability. Under the law, if a person interrupts or interferes with the operations of critical infrastructure, they would additionally be guilty of a Class C felony, punishable by at least one and up to ten years in prison. The draft law was pre-filed for the 2022 legislative session in September 2021. It is nearly identical to HB 516 introduced in 2021. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 11 Jan 2022; Approved by Senate 1 February 2022; Approved by House 10 February 2022; Signed by Governor Ivey 15 February 2022

Issue(s): Conspiracy, Infrastructure, Trespass

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Arkansas

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

Introduces harsh new penalties for protestors around gas and oil pipelines and other "critical infrastructure." The law 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 below ground pipelines as well as pipeline construction sites and equipment. Under the law, 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 law 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 law 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. Under the law, 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: enacted

Introduced 27 Jan 2021; Approved by House 9 March 2021; Approved by Senate 1 April 2021; Signed by Governor Hutchinson 14 April 2021

Issue(s): Infrastructure, Trespass

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Florida

HB 275 / SB 340: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Would create a new felony offenses for trespassing and “improper tampering” that could cover some protests near pipelines and other infrastructure that do not involve actual property damage. The bill broadly defines “critical infrastructure” to include above or belowground pipelines, as well as a range of other gas, electricity, water, mining, and telecommunications facilities. Amendments to both the House and Senate versions of the bill after it was introduced added a 3rd degree felony offense for entering onto critical infrastructure property with notice that such entrace was prohibited. As such, protesters who cause no damage but merely enter onto posted property that contains a pipeline in the course of their protest could face felony charges and up to 5 years in prison if convicted. By contrast, trespassing onto private property is generally a 2nd degree misdemeanor, punishable by at most 60 days in jail. The House bill as originally introduced defined “improperly tampering” to include any unauthorized action to “change…the physical condition of the property or any portion thereof,” or to “knowingly and intentionally… deface” critical infrastructure property. As such, the 2nd degree felony offense—which is punishable by 15 years in prison and $10,000—could cover actions as minor as chalking protest messages or taping posters onto a pipeline, or protesters inadvertently trampling a field during a demonstration that is next to and part of a covered facility.

(See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 25 Oct 2023; Approved by House 22 February 2024

Issue(s): Infrastructure, Trespass

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Idaho

HB 519: New penalties for protests near pipelines and other infrastructure

Would create new offenses for “trespassing” onto and “impeding” critical infrastructure that could cover nonviolent protesters near pipelines and other infrastructure, whether operational or under construction. The bill defines “critical infrastructure” to include a broad range of energy, water, communication and transportation facilities, regardless of whether they are fenced off or posted with no trespassing signs. Under the bill, someone commits critical infrastructure trespass who “knowingly and willfully enters or remains in a critical infrastructure facility or construction site.. without permission of the owner of the property or after notice is given to depart or not to trespass.” Because the definition of critical infrastructure is not limited to facilities that are fenced or posted, the trespass offense as written could cover a protester who is intentionally on a pipeline construction site even if they didn't know that they were trespassing and no notice was provided. The first offense is a misdemeanor (up to 6 months in jail and $1,000), but a second offense within 5 years is a felony (up to 10 years and $20,000). A person is guilty of the “impeding” offense if they “knowingly and intentionally impede the operations of a critical infrastructure facility” without authorization. “Impede” is defined to mean “to block the operation of or prevent legal access to” a CI facility or CI facility construction site; or to “damage, destroy, deface, or tamper with” a CI facility or its equipment. If the “impeding” results in damages of less than $10,000, the offense is a misdemeanor (up to 6 months in jail and $10,000), but if it results in damages of more than $10,000 the offense is a felony (up to 2 years and $100,000). As written, the “impeding” offense could cover e.g. protesters who block the road to a pipeline construction site. Under the bill, an individual or organization that “aids, abets, solicits, compensates, hires, conspires with, commands, or procures” someone to commit CI trespass or impeding, with the intent that the person complete the offense, is liable to a fine of up to $100,000. The bill also provides that critical infrastructure facilities can also sue individuals or organizations for damages, including damages for lost profits.

(See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 8 Feb 2024.

Issue(s): Damage Costs, Conspiracy, Infrastructure, Trespass

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Illinois

HB 4746: NEW PENALTIES FOR PROTESTS NEAR CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE

Would create a new felony offense that could cover nonviolent protesters at pipeline and other infrastructure sites. Under the bill, someone who knowingly “vandalizes, defaces, tampers with” or damages part of a critical infrastructure facility commits a felony. If the “value of the property” (not the cost of the damage) is less than $500, the offense is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1-3 years in prison and up to $20,000; if the property value is $500-$10,000, it is a Class 3 felony (2-5 years and $20,000); and if the property value exceeds $10,000, it is a Class 2 felony (3-7 years and $20,000). The bill newly defines "critical infrastructure facility" under Illinois law to include gas and oil pipelines and a range of pipeline-related facilities, as well as electric, water, telecommunications, railroad, and “health care” facilities, regardless of whether they are fenced off or clearly marked with signs. As such, a protester who chalked or spraypainted a pipeline without damaging its functionality could face felony charges and a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. The bill extends liability to anyone who “conspires with” a person to commit the offense. It also provides that critical infrastructure owners can sue for punitive and compensatory damages.

(See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 5 Feb 2024.

Issue(s): Damage Costs, Conspiracy, Infrastructure

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Illinois

SB 3086: 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 entering or remaining on a "critical infrastructure facility" is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1-3 years in prison and $25,000. Aggravated criminal trespass to a critical infrastructure facility--defined as trespass with "intent to damage, destroy, or tamper with equipment" in the facility--is a Class 3 felony punishable by 2-5 years and $25,000. The bill newly defines "critical infrastructure facility" under Illinois law to include gas and oil pipelines, including those under construction, and a range of pipeline-related facilities, as well as electric, water, telecommunications, and railroad facilities that are fenced off or posted. Nearly identical text was introduced as SB 3814 in the 2022 legislative session, and as SB 1312 in 2023.

(See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 2 Feb 2024.

Issue(s): Infrastructure, Trespass

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Illinois

SB 1312 / HB 2362: 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 entering or remaining on a "critical infrastructure facility" is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1-3 years in prison and $25,000. Aggravated criminal trespass to a critical infrastructure facility--defined as trespass with "intent to damage, destroy, or tamper with equipment" in the facility--is a Class 3 felony punishable by 2-5 years and $25,000. The bill newly defines "critical infrastructure facility" under Illinois law to include gas and oil pipelines, including those under construction, and a range of pipeline-related facilities, as well as electric, water, telecommunications, and railroad facilities that are fenced off or posted. Nearly identical text was introduced as SB 3814 in the 2022 legislative session.

(See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 6 Feb 2023.

Issue(s): Infrastructure, Trespass

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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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Kansas

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

Creates four new criminal offenses that could capture the conduct of peaceful protesters near pipelines. Under the law, 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 "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 "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 law also 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. When it was introduced, the law included new penalties for "defacing" and "vandalizing" critical infrastructure; civil liability for any person or "entity" that provided compensation to someone to commit the offenses described above; and added the trespass and damage offenses above to the underlying crimes that could be prosecuted under the state's RICO law. These provisions were removed prior to the law's enactment. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 8 Feb 2021; Approved by Senate 2 March 2021; Approved by House 30 March 2021; Signed by Governor Kelly 9 April 2021

Issue(s): Damage Costs, Conspiracy, Infrastructure, Trespass

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Kentucky

HB 44: New penalties for protests near pipelines and other infrastructure

Creates 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 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 have fallen under this definition. Prior to the law's enactment, lawmakers removed the language penalizing activity that "impeded" or "inhibited" operations of infrastructure like a pipeline. The enacted version instead penalizes "tamper[ing] with the operations of a key infrastructure asset... in a manner that renders the operations harmful or dangerous." 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. Prior to enactment, this was narrowed to 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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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 205: New racketeering penalties for protesters

Would add several protest-related offenses to the underlying crimes that can be prosecuted under Louisiana’s racketeering law, which carries steep penalties. The nine offenses added to the racketeering law under the bill include “riot,” “inciting to riot,” and “criminal damage to historic buildings or landmarks by defacing with graffiti.” Louisiana law defines “riot” broadly, requiring no actual violence or damage but three or more people engaged in a “public disturbance” that creates a “danger of injury or damage” by an “imminent threat of tumultuous and violent conduct.” As such, individuals who participate in tumultuous protests, or who “incite” others to participate in them, could be charged with a violation of Louisiana’s racketeering law if they did so more than once and as part of an enterprise with others. Racketeering violations are punishable by up to 50 years in prison with hard labor and a one million dollar fine. The bill also adds “criminal damage to a critical infrastructure” to the racketeering law, such that certain civil disobedience actions near pipelines and other infrastructure could be covered as well. 

(See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 26 Feb 2024.

Issue(s): Conspiracy, Infrastructure, Riot

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Minnesota

HF 1445 / SF 1493: New penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines

Would create vicarious liability for any person or entity that "recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with" a person who trespasses on critical infrastructure property for any damages committed by the trespasser. The bill would also create strict liability for any damages caused by a person who trespasses on critical infrastructure property. If a person or entity intentionally recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires with a person to trespass they are guilty of a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $3,000, if they fail to make a reasonable effort to prevent the violation. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 9 Feb 2023.

Issue(s): Damage Costs, Conspiracy, Infrastructure, Trespass

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Mississippi

HB 1243: New Penalties for Protests Near Critical Infrastructure

Creates new potential penalties for protests near oil or gas pipelines and other infrastructure facilities, including those under construction. The law establishes two new offenses: "critical infrastructure trespass," and "impeding critical infrastructure." Critical infrastructure trespass is defined in the law as knowingly entering onto infrastructure property without authorization or not leaving once notified to depart; the offense is 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 law, 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 law 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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Missouri

HB 355: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Creates new potential penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines and other "critical infrastructure." The law--which was substituted by a Missouri Senate committee for a House bill on sentencing guidelines--heightens the penalties for trespass occurring 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 is 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 law. The law also newly criminalizes "damage" to critical infrastructure, broadly defined to include vandalism, and makes it a Class C felony, punishable by 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The law also newly and broadly defines "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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Montana

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

Heightens penalties for protests near oil pipelines and other "critical infrastructure facilities," including those under construction. The law 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. The offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by 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: enacted

Introduced 18 Feb 2021; Approved by House 2 March 2021; Approved by Senate 16 April 2021; Governor Signed 14 May 2021

Issue(s): Damage Costs, Conspiracy, Infrastructure, Trespass

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North Carolina

SB 58: New penalties for protests near pipelines

Introduces new potential criminal and civil penalties for peaceful protests near existing and planned pipelines and other energy infrastructure. The enacted version of the law makes it a Class C felony offense to knowingly and willfully “obstruct, impede, or impair” or “attempt to obstruct, impede, or impair” the services of an energy facility. The law defines “energy facility” to include any facility involved in the transmission of “electricity, fuel, or another form or source of energy,” including facilities that are under construction or otherwise not functioning. As such, a group of people protesting the construction of a fossil fuel pipeline could face more than 15 years in prison and a mandatory $250,000 fine if they impede or impair the construction of a pipeline, for instance by blocking workers’ access to the pipeline construction site. Under the law, such protesters, along with anyone who “aides or abets, solicits, conspires, or lends material support” to their act of impeding construction could also face significant civil penalties from the fossil fuel company. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 1 Feb 2023; Approved by Senate 14 March 2023; Approved by House 14 June 2023; Signed by Governor Cooper 19 June 2023

Issue(s): Damage Costs, Conspiracy, Infrastructure

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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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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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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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Oregon

HB 2772: Criminalizing Certain Protests as Domestic Terrorism

As introduced, the bill would have created a sweeping new crime of "domestic terrorism" that would include if a person intentionally attempted to cause "disruption of daily life" that "severely affects the population, infrastructure, environment, or government functioning of this state." Under this definition, a peaceful protest that blocked traffic in a major commercial district could be defined as domestic terrorism, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Lawmakers substantially amended the bill prior to its enactment, however rights groups argue that it could still cover certain acts of civil disobedience. Under the enacted law, “domestic terrorism” in the first degree is a Class B felony and includes intentionally destroying or substantially damaging “critical infrastructure,” with the intent to disrupt the services provided by critical infrastructure. Attempting to destroy or substantially damage critical infrastructure is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $125,000. “Critical infrastructure” is broadly defined to include pipelines and roads.

(See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted with improvements

Introduced 9 Jan 2023; Approved by House 8 June 2023; Approved by Senate 23 June 2023; Signed by Governor Kotek 4 August 2023

Issue(s): Infrastructure, Terrorism, Traffic Interference

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South Dakota

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

Heightens potential penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure. Under the law, knowingly trespassing on property containing a critical infrastructure facility is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. Knowingly tampering with any property and as a direct result 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 $4,000 fine. A person or organization found to be a "conspirator" in any of the above offenses 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 other victims' rights. As such, a company that owns a critical infrastructure facility can seek restitution from an individual protester convicted of any of the above provisions, as well as from any person or entity found to be a "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

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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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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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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Utah

HB 370: New Penalties for Protests Near Pipelines, Roadways, and other Infrastructure

As introduced, the bill would have created new potential criminal liability for protesters in many locations by criminalizing acts that "inhibit" or "impede" critical infrastructure facilities. The bill's original text had a sweeping definition of "critical infrastructure facility" that included highways, bridges, transportation systems, food distribution systems, law enforcement response systems, financial systems, and energy infrastructure including pipelines--whether under construction or operational. The bill created a new felony offense for "inhibiting," or "impeding" the facility, its equipment, or operation, such that protesters who intentionally inhibited or impeded the operation of a roadway or construction of a pipeline could have faced life in prison. Amendments to the bill substantially narrowed the offense, however. The enacted law criminalizes "substantially... inhibiting or impeding" the operation of critical infrastructure only if doing so "causes widespread injury or damage to persons or property." Amendments also narrowed the definition of "critical infrastructure facility," including by removing highways, bridges, transportation systems, food distribution systems, law enforcement response systems, and financial systems from the definition. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted with improvements

Introduced 3 Feb 2023; Approved by House 14 February 2023; Approved by Senate 28 February 2023; Signed by Governor Cox 14 March 2023

Issue(s): Infrastructure, Traffic Interference

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West Virginia

HB 4615: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Heightens potential penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure. Under the law, 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 law 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 5091: Heightened penalties for protesters near pipelines and other infrastructure

Would increase the penalties and broaden offenses that could cover nonviolent protesters near pipelines and other infrastructure. The bill would amend West Virginia’s 2020 critical infrastructure law to remove the limitation that the law’s offenses could only occur on critical infrastructure property “if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if clearly marked with a sign or signs that.. indicate that entry is forbidden.” As a result, many more infrastructure sites would be covered by the law’s trespass and tampering offenses, which carry significant penalties. The bill would also make convictions for second and subsequent offenses of either the trespassing or tampering offenses a felony punishable by at least 5 and up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $100,000-$250,000. The bill would increase the fine for a person who “vandalizes, defaces, or tampers with” equipment in a critical infrastructure facility that causes damage of more than $2,500, from $1,000-$5,000 to $25,000-$100,000.

(See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 25 Jan 2024; Approved by House 6 February 2024

Issue(s): Infrastructure, Trespass

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West Virginia

HB 4994: Potential "terrorism" charges for nonviolent protesters

Would create several new, sweeping “terrorism” offenses that could cover nonviolent protesters. One new offense, “terrorist violent mass action,” is defined to include “violent protests” and “riots” that “appear intended” to coerce or intimidate groups, governments, or societies. The bill provides that participation in a “terrorist violent mass action” constitutes an “terrorist act,” and any entity that uses such actions “to advance its agenda” is a “terrorist group.” “Violent protest” is not defined in the bill or elsewhere in the law, nor does the bill require that a person individually commit any act of violence or property damage to be culpable of “terrorist violent mass action.” As such, someone who peacefully participates in a nonviolent but rowdy protest where a few individuals commit property damage could conceivably face “terrorism” charges. Likewise, a nonprofit group involved in organizing or supporting such a protest “to advance its agenda” could be deemed a “terrorist organization” under the bill. Individuals and organizations not directly involved in such a protest could also face felony “terrorism” charges for providing protesters with “material support”—broadly defined by the bill as “any property, tangible or intangible, or service.” The bill also creates a new felony “terrorism” offense for “actions… taken for political reasons to bar other persons from exercising their freedom of movement, via foot or any other conveyance.” As defined, that could cover a large, peaceful march that even temporarily stops traffic. Meanwhile, the bill provides complete immunity for people who “injure perpetrators or supporters of perpetrators” while attempting to “escape” such “terrorism.” This provision would seem to eliminate consequences for acts of violence against protesters by people whose movement has been blocked by a protest, including drivers who hit protesters with their cars. The bill also creates new felony “threatening terrorism” offenses for a person or group that "for political reasons blockades property containing critical infrastructure,” or that “trespasses for political reasons onto property containing critical infrastructure.” As such, nonviolent protesters who block a road to a pipeline or enter onto pipeline property could face “threatening terrorism” charges, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The bill is largely similar to HB 2916, proposed in the 2023 session.

(See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 22 Jan 2024.

Issue(s): Conspiracy, Driver Immunity, Infrastructure, Riot, Terrorism, Traffic Interference, Trespass

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Wisconsin

AB 426: New penalties for protests near gas and oil pipelines

Creates new potential penalties for protests near oil and gas pipelines and other property of "energy providers." The law expands existing provisions related to trespass and property damage to broadly include the property of all companies in the oil and gas industry. Under the law, 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" is a Class H felony, punishable by six years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Accordingly, protests in a range of locations may 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, is likewise a Class H felony under the law. (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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For more information about the Tracker, contact Elly Page at EPage@icnl.org.