ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Lawmakers are clashing over a renewed attempt to increase penalties for protesting that blocks traffic, transit lines or at airports.
The Republican-led House Public Safety committee passed the bill on party lines Thursday over strong opposition from Democrats. The legislation started last year as a response to months of Black Lives Matter protests officer-involved shootings that snarled interstate traffic and blocked the airport.
The measure was eventually traded away in budget negotiations last spring but was introduced again this year. GOP Rep. Nick Zerwas says increasing the penalties for those protests from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor would improve public safety.
Democrats called it an attempt to stifle citizens' right to protest. The bill will now head for a full House floor vote.
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