Who do I know in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, or Washington?

The state legislatures in all of these states have bills introduced that are attempts to criminalize public protests.

In North Dakota, they've got House Bill No. 1203, which declares that "a driver of a motor vehicle who negligently causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway may not be held liable for any damages." That seems like a terrible idea on its own merits.

In Minnesota, there is HF 55, which would prohibit the maintanance or permission of "a condition which unreasonably annoys, injures or endangers the safety, health, morals, comfort, or repose of any considerable number of members of the public."

Washington state is now considering the Preventing Economic Terrorism Act, which

creates a new crime called “economic terrorism." It criminalizes illegal protests aimed at causing economic damage and targets the unlawful disruption of transportation and commerce.

The Michigan House has now passed two bills along these lines:

One bill would increase fines against picketers to $1,000 per person per day of a picket and $10,000 per day for an organization or union involved in the picket that is deemed to be an illegal mass picket. That bill passed on a mostly party-line vote of 57-50.

The other would repeal a law that requires employers to include information about an ongoing strike when they advertise to hire employees who will replace existing, but striking employees at a company. That bill passed on a vote of 59-48 on a mostly party line vote.

And finally, we've got Iowa, where a state rep is pushing this bit of assholery:

Kaufmann plans to introduce a piece of legislation he’s calling the “suck it up, buttercup bill” when the Legislature resumes in January.

It would target state universities that use taxpayer dollars to fund election-related sit-ins and grief counseling above and beyond what is normally available to students. Those that do would be subject to a budget cut for double the amount they spend on such activities, Kaufmann said. It also would establish new criminal penalties for protesters who shut down highways, like those who briefly closed Interstate Highway 80 in Iowa City during a protest against President-elect Donald Trump last week.

These bills all sound like bad ideas to me, but I don't live in any of these states. If you do, and you have questions or concerns about these bills, how about a quick call to your state representatives and governor?

Show Comments