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.

38 states have
considered
121 bills
22 enacted 2 enacted with
improvements
29 pending 68 defeated or
expired

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation and executive orders

Latest updates: May. 26, 2020 (Louisiana), Apr. 14, 2020 (Wisconsin), Apr. 2, 2020 (Utah)
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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: pending

Introduced 24 Feb 2020; Approved by House 22 May 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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For more information about the Tracker, contact Elly Page at EPage@icnl.org.