Bill Toughening Penalties for Protesters Clears House
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Minnesota lawmakers are clashing again over efforts to increase penalties for protesters who block traffic, transit lines and airport access.
The Republican-led House passed a bill Tuesday that could slap protesters with up to a year in jail. It's a familiar measure at the Capitol that started last year in response to months of protests over officer-involved shootings that snarled interstate traffic.
GOP Rep. Nick Zerwas says increasing the penalty on those protests from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor would improve public safety. It passed on a nearly party-line vote as many Democrats called it an attempt to stifle free speech.
Gov. Mark Dayton has expressed some openness to the measure. But he criticized Republicans on Tuesday and called the proposal ``a non-issue.''