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PA House Bill SB652 Criminalizing Protest

October 15, 2018

 

URGENT: The House vote is still pending and the window to pass SB652 narrowing. It's the bill that criminalizes protest. Call your state reps to tell them to vote NO to SB 652. Then call them again. Find their contact info here.Keep calling! Talking points below.

 

Find number of your legislator with link below, or use Earthwork's Take Action tool https://earthworks.org/take-action/pa-sb652/

It will track you to correct legislator.

 

Call House Leadership:

Mike Turzai, Speaker (717) 772-9943
Dave Reed, Majority Leader (717) 705-7173
Frank Dermody, Minority Leader (717) 787-3566
Michael K. Hanna, Democratic Whip (717) 772-2283
Bryan Cutler, Republican Whip (717) 783-6424

 

A staff attorney at the Clean Air Council has offered these talking points based on the version of the bill amended by the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee:

 

1) We must protect first amendment rights of peaceful protesters.

 

2) This bill criminalizes peaceful protest. This bill makes peaceful protest a 2nd degree felony on par with sexual assault or aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. This bill makes peaceful protest a felony for individuals who have no intention of causing harm. A repeat offense constitutes a first degree felony on par with kidnapping, rape, and murder.

 

3) This bill, in its current form, makes trespass with "intent to impede or inhibit operations" a 2nd degree felony. "Intent to impede or inhibit" is not defined. These terms could be interpreted very broadly. The bill could establish that simply entering a property (nothing more!) impedes or inhibits operations and is a felony.

 

4) This bill, in its current form, makes conspiring to peacefully protest a 2nd degree felony. Helping to plan a protest could make one a "co-conspirator" and a 2nd degree felon.

 

5) This bill, in its current form, makes a second offense a 1st degree felony. First degree felony charges can carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines. Second degree felony conviction could carry penalties of prison sentence of up to 10 years and Maximum fine of $20,000.

 

6) The bill was recently amended to include additional language focused on property damage and vandalism, yet trespass is still treated as the greater offense. This is a clear indication that this bill is designed primarily to threaten free speech and peaceful protest.

 

If it passes on second consideration, it will be voted on one more time before going back to the Senate. Presuming the language of the amended version is approved by the Senate, it will go to Wolf for a vote. Please call your state reps and stay tuned for next steps!

 

And if you're a Twitter user, please search #SB652 for tweets to RT or customize to tweet at your reps.

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