FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/31/2019
Rep. Erin Zwiener Takes Lead in Fight Against Legislation to Criminalize Pipeline Protests
Austin, TX — Representative Erin Zwiener (Driftwood) took the lead in fighting a dangerous, industry-backed bill that targets peaceful protesters and landowners under the guise of protecting critical infrastructure
HB 3557, by Rep. Chris Paddie (Marshall), makes it a felony to “impede, inhibit or interfere” with the operations of critical infrastructure facilities, including pipelines. Bills like HB 3557 have already passed in Iowa, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma following the construction of controversial pipeline projects in those states.
“This is a transparent attempt to intimidate peaceful protesters and landowners who engage in civil disobedience,” said Rep. Zwiener. “Felony charges are for serious crimes like abandonment of a child or assault. Participating in a peaceful sit in shouldn’t come with the same potential punishment.”
Rep. Zwiener fought the bill on multiple occasions including:
• Attempting to amend it on the floor to exclude landowners taking action on their own property that had been taken by eminent domain
• Calling a point of order to try and stop the bill from progressing
• Obtaining a spot on the conference committee and negotiating language to clarify that mild surface damage like graffiti didn’t fall under this legislation
• Asking legislative intent questions in case this legislation ends up part of a lawsuit.
The Texas House ultimately passed an amended version of HB 3557 by a 99-45 vote.
Contact: Holly Doyle