The Salt Lake Tribune by Bethany Ridgers
March 5, 2020
Protesters repeatedly found guilty of disrupting public meetings would face stiffer penalties under a bill that passed the Utah Senate on Thursday.
The proposal cleared the Senate by a unanimous vote after a couple Democratic lawmakers questioned its sponsor, Sen. Don Ipson, about whether it would have a chilling effect on public expression or put officials at risk of being sued for restricting speech.
“They have every right in the world to free speech,” Ipson, R-St. George, said of protesters. “They don’t have the right to disrupt the meeting to the point that it’s disorderly conduct.”
Ipson said the new prohibitions would cover town hall meetings organized by state lawmakers, in addition to other official government meetings.