House Committee Advances Governor’s Protest Legislation

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – A state House panel has approved a scaled-down version of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s public safety bill preparing for potential oil pipeline protests in South Dakota.

The House State Affairs Committee advanced the plan Monday to the chamber’s floor. The bill would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for someone to stand in the highway to stop traffic or to enter a posted emergency area.

Under some circumstances, it would allow the commissioner of school and public lands, at the request of the governor and local sheriff, to block any group larger than 20 people from gathering on land under the office’s supervision.

Supporters say the bill is necessary to deter violent protests such as those over the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. Opponents argue that it could target Native Americans.

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