ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed a GOP-backed bill that would increase penalties for protesters who block freeways or transit lines.
The debate started last year in response to protests over officer-involved shootings of two black men that shut down interstates and blocked the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The Legislature's bill would have hit protesters in similar demonstrations with a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.
Republicans argued it was necessary to protect public safety. But Dayton vetoed the legislation Saturday night.
The Democratic governor says the guidelines for protesters who block transit was too vague. And he says it's unfair to punish protesters more harshly than people who commit assault or domestic assault.
The Minnesota Legislature is headed for a messy and potentially inconclusive ending.
Lawmakers have until midnight Sunday to pass bills. But Republican leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton have struggled to compromise on a tax bill and some additional government spending, including emergency funding for public schools that Dayton deems necessary.
GOP legislative leaders conceded Saturday night an agreement may be out reach. They planned to pass a handful of bills overnight with new measures meant to satisfy Dayton and hope the governor would accept.
Dayton declared he wouldn't sign the budget bill in its current form and left a reworked tax bill's fate up in the air.
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