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Only Written Testimony Permitted On "Riot Assault", Free Speech Bill At Statehouse

A bill that could put increased penalties on protestors will be heard in an Ohio House committee Wednesday – but those who want to speak to the committee members about it won’t be able to so in person. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports.

Only written testimony is being accepted on what’s called the “Ohio Law and Order Act", which creates a crime of riot assault with escalating penalties if a police officer is attacked and allows officers to sue people for injuries or what the bill terms false complaints. Gary Daniels with the ACLU says there’s language that treats protestors as terrorists, allowing for assets to be seized and organizations shut down.

“The bill is so broad and so vague they're going to capture an awful lot of constitutionally protected free speech. And the practical end to all of this will be a lot of people are just simply going to stop speaking.”

The bill’s Republican sponsors have said it supports law enforcement, small business owners and people who want to protest while holding those who break the law accoutnable.  Two dozen opponents offered testimony at the last hearing on the bill in June.

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