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
286 bills
42 enacted 25 pending

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation

Latest updates: Feb. 23, 2024 (Florida), Feb. 22, 2024 (Alaska), Feb. 12, 2024 (Illinois)
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8 entries matching in provided filters in 5 states. Clear all filters
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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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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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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For more information about the Tracker, contact Elly Page at EPage@icnl.org.