“Zerwas’ bill is part of a national trend. Roughly 20 states are considering new regulations and penalties regarding protests. New laws have been enacted this year in a handful of states, including Georgia, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Some increase penalties for picketing near ‘critical infrastructure,’ such as pipelines and airports. Some call for protesters to pay overtime costs for law enforcement. Some threaten to seize protesters’ assets. And some require colleges and universities to suspend or expel students who disrupt campus speakers.
“‘There’s no question you’ve seen an upsurge in the numbers of these bills and an increase in their stringency,’ says Sam Munger, senior adviser to the State Information Exchange, a strategy center for progressive legislators. ‘It’s both reactive to a recent upsurge in grassroots protests and an effort to intimidate protesters.'”