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Highway Protest Crackdown Bill Not Happening This Session

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – As lawmakers are running out of a time to reach a budget deal ahead of Monday's legal deadline, one piece of legislation that won't move forward is a crackdown on protesters who block freeways.

The author of the controversial legislation, Rep. Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River), says he remains concerned about possible protests next year when the Super Bowl and other big ticket events will be held in the Twin Cities.

"We have seen protesters block trains and cause chaos when we host large events," he said. "I think we should have criminal penalties before these events. I remain committed to getting this done."

The proposed bill would raise the punishment for blocking four-lane highways, rail lines and roads leading to airports. All such places were targets in recent years following the fatal police shootings of Jamar Clark, Philando Castile and other black men across the nation.

The legislation met resistance at the capitol, where critics said the crackdown would be an attack on free speech.

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