After lengthy debate, the Minnesota Senate today passed a bill (40-27) that aims to increase the penalties on protesters convicted of blocking traffic and public transit. Republican Senator Bill Ingebrigsten of Alexandria says the goal of the bill is to allow people to “express themselves under the first amendment and at the same time do it in a safe place and freeways and highways and very high traffic airports is not the place to do that.” Democratic Senator Jeff Hayden of Minneapolis strongly opposed the bill and says “what we have to do is stop the underlying behavior that has people protesting, that has people getting in the way of things that you find sacred in order to get your attention.” The bill would increase the penalty for protestors blocking traffic from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor. It passed in the House last week. It’s not clear whether Governor Dayton would sign or veto the bill.
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