OKLAHOMA - Protests have erupted across the nation and even right here in Oklahoma City over a constitutional right exercised by many Americans.
Under Representative Scott Biggs' bill, 'willfully trespassing' on 'critical infrastructure,' without permission could get you a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail.
That includes trespassing on water treatment facilities, pipeline interconnections or pump stations.
“This is a bill to protect Oklahoma and the infrastructure we have and if you think that's a waste of time, I'm sorry I disagree with you on that,” said Biggs.
The bill doesn't stop there.
If a trespasser has intent to cause physical destruction to the facility that bumps the charge to a felony, which includes a $10,000 fine and a year in prison.
One step further, it would result in a $100,000 fine and a 10 year sentence.
And any organization caught up in the protest could be fined up to a million dollars.
“Across the country we've seen time and time again, these protests that have turned violent, these protests that have disrupted the infrastructure in those other states. This is a preventive measure in Oklahoma to make sure that doesn't happen here,” Biggs said.
House Minority leader Scott Inman voted no on the bill.
“And we're afraid that the bill as it is written will chill our first amendment free speech rights,” Inman said.
And he said putting protesters in jail isn't the solution.
“Felonies need be reserved for murder and rape and armed robbery not for walking on somebody's property.”
We tried to talk with Representative Biggs about those concerns. His office told us he doesn't do interviews with KFOR. We tried again to get a comment on the bill.
“Can we get any interviews about the legislation?”
“No!” Said Biggs. “Ma'am, I have to go back to committee,” he said.
On the house floor Tuesday Representative Biggs said not one part of this bill prohibits any type of protesting.