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Justice

Missouri bill would up penalties for protesters on highways

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase penalties for protesters who block highways.

The Columbia Missourian reports that a Missouri Senate committee heard the bill this week.

The proposed legislation would make it a Class A misdemeanor if a person obstructs an interstate highway or the pathway to or from an emergency medical services provider. The punishment would be a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to 30 days.

Current state law says that intentionally impeding traffic would be a Class B misdemeanor on first offense and a Class A misdemeanor on second offense.

Opponents of the bill question its impact on First Amendment rights.

The tactic of protesters blocking highways was prominently used in the Ferguson protests of 2014 and more recently in September.

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Information from: Columbia Missourian, http://www.columbiamissourian.com