ST. PAUL --  Minnesota government leaders are hesitant to tighten rules against Capitol protests that don't have permits even though some recent demonstrations turned into heated confrontations.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who chairs a Capitol security committee that examined the issue Tuesday, says the State Patrol has managed the situations well and that the state has "done a good job'' protecting First Amendment rights.

The current permitting process exists to allow groups to reserve space on the Capitol grounds and give security an idea of the anticipated turnout. But some rallies have drawn opponents that have sought to disrupt or counter the main event.

State Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, has floated the idea of a designated protest space but says he's not sure where to put it or how to enforce it.