House committee approves bill that would charge protesters

A Minnesota House committee has approved a bill that would charge protesters for law enforcement costs associated with disruptive demonstrations.

The House Civil Law Committee passed the bill 6-3, amid outcry from critics who say it could be used to silence dissent.

Citizens at Tuesday’s hearing shouted “Shame, shame!” after the vote, prompting lawmakers to walk out without taking up a second measure.

The bill was proposed by Republican Rep. Nick Nerwas of Elk River, who said local law enforcement has spent $2.5 million dealing with protests in the last 18 months. The bill would allow authorities to sue protesters to recover some of the costs.

The bill goes on to the House Public Safety Committee.