IOWA: An expansive bill takes aim at protesters, with huge penalties and frightening rhetoric.

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UPDATE (3/7/2018): We now expect the vote in the House to happen TODAY!  Please call your state representative at 515-281-3221
Not sure who your Representative is? Find out here.

NOTE: There are three amendments offered to the bill:
We support H-8190 offered by Rep. Olson, which would define “critical infrastructure sabotage” as “property damage to critical infrastructure of at least on hundred thousand dollars.”
We support H – 8191 offered by Rep. Olson, which affirms that the law does not prohibit pickets, public demonstrations and other expressions protected by the U.S. or Iowa Constitutions
We oppose H – 8989 offered by Rep. Olson, which would expand the definition of “critical infrastructure” to include banks, hospitals and other enterprises.

Iowa State Senator Jack Shipely (R-Nodaway) claims that activists have engaged in “terrorist activity” while protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and he claims that there aren’t enough laws on the books to prosecute this supposed terrorism.

So he’s introduced Senate File 2235, which passed the Senate earlier this week. The bill creates a new crime: “critical infrastructure sabotage,” punishable by up to 25 years in prison and fines of $85,000 to $100,000.

We’re against sabotage as much as the next guy, but this bill is so broad that a motivated prosecutor could use it against even non-violent protesters who do no damage to any property.

A vote in the House is imminent. Please take action now!

Known as HF2394 in the House, the  Des Moines Register explains that the bill: “defines critical infrastructure sabotage as any unauthorized  act intended to cause substantial interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public relating to critical infrastructure property.”

So let’s be clear: the goal of the bill is to discourage protests at pipeline sites. And to create a bludgeon to use against any protester that dares to target pipelines or extractive industry profits.

Take action to stop this bill now!

There are already plenty of laws on the books to punish vandalism, and even terrorism.

The bill is opposed by the Iowa Sierra Club, the ACLU, and the Justice Reform Coalition. But is is supported by the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries, Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Energy Transfer Partners, Magellan Midstream Partners.

Please join us in opposing the bill!

Thank you,

the Defending Rights & Dissent team

Read more about bills like these that are cropping up all over the country on our blog.