Georgia Senate committee revives measure to limit protests

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FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, New state Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, center, is flanked by Majority Leader Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, left, and Majority Whip Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, right, as he speaks to the media in Atlanta. A Senate committee on Thursday, March 18, 2021, revived a proposal pushed by Robertson to declare more protests illegal and enact harsher penalties for acts including blocking highways. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia state Senate committee is reviving a proposal to declare more protests illegal and enact harsher penalties for acts including blocking highways.

The Senate Public Safety Committee on Thursday voted 5-3 to overhaul House Bill 289, replacing unrelated language with most of another bill sponsored by Republican Randy Robertson of Cataula.

That bill had failed to win a vote in a different Senate committee after members expressed concerns about violating free speech and assembly rights.

The committee also voted to approve House Bill 286, a Republican-based bill to block “defund the police” movements in cities and counties.

It says local governments generally can’t cut spending on their police departments by more than 5% a year.

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