Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Signs Protest Bill Upping Penalties

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Tennessee protesters will face harsher penalties, including losing the right to vote, for breaking certain laws during demonstrations under a law enacted by Gov. Bill Lee.

Tennessee’s General Assembly advanced the measure during a brief three-day special legislative session while also passing bills on COVID-19 liability immunity and telemedicine.

The new law now states that those who illegally camp on state property would now face a Class E felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, rather than a misdemeanor. Felony convictions in Tennessee result in the revocation of an individual’s right to vote.

The bill also imposes a mandatory minimum 45-day hold if convicted of aggravated rioting; enhances the fine for obstructing emergency vehicles from accessing highways; requires a court to order restitution for damaging state property; and creates a Class C felony offense for aggravated assault against a first responder — which carries a $15,000 fine and mandatory minimum 90-day prison sentence.

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