Bill aimed at animal rights vandalism passes MN House

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Anti-terrorism bill takes aim at vandals

Apr 16, 2002

Mnpls Star Tribune

The House overwhelmingly passed a bill Monday that could impose a criminal penalty on a person or group taking responsibility for an act of vandalism or destruction.

Supporters said the measure bolsters laws against possible terrorist acts. During debate, opponents said it blurs the lines permitted under free speech and association.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Workman, R-Chanhassen, covers such vandalism as damage to university research labs by animal rights activists. It would allow police to charge anyone who is not charged with the crime but who takes responsibility for it to face up to half the possible prison time or up to half the fine. It also makes it a crime for anyone other than an owner to destroy or damage field crops, animals, organisms or cells grown for testing or research purposes. The measure passed 119 to 8.

A similar version in the Senate, sponsored by Dave Kleis, R-St. Cloud, passed last month, 61 to 1. The bill will go to conference committee, where some minor differences in language are expected to be worked out.

-- Mark Brunswick
 

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