Calif. Democrats split on increasing fines for protesters

Protesters that are blocking California highways could face greater fines as some Democrats are siding with Republicans on the effort.

Recent protests blocking roadways over the Israel-Hamas war has led to Democrats looking to team up with Republicans in California to increase the penalty for protestors. 

Monday, the Assembly Transportation Committee passed Assembly Bill 2742 on an 8-5 vote, with four Democrats siding with Republicans to push it through. 


The big picture: AB 2742, authored by Asm. Kate Sanchez (R–Trabuco Canyon), would punish anyone who willfully obstructs a highway, including protests, in any manner that interferes with emergency vehicles. 

  • Fines for a first conviction would range from $200 to $500, and a second conviction within one year would result in a fine ranging from $300 to $1,000. 
  • A third conviction within three years would levy a fine of at least $500 up to $1,000. 

State of play: Four Democrats on the committee voted to support AB 2742: Assemblymembers Juan Carrillo, Diane Papan, Chris Ward and Gregg Hart. 

  • Sanchez told the committee that a protest on the San Francisco Bay Bridge last November affected three people who were waiting for organ transplants. 
  • Protesters have also shut down the Golden Gate Bridge and Los Angeles International Airport. 

What they’re saying: “AB 2742’s bipartisan passage out of committee today is a step in the right direction, that hopefully will send a signal that these dangerous highway blockings will no longer be tolerated,” Sanchez said in a statement. “We need to provide law enforcement every tool we can to crack down on this irresponsible and reckless behavior. Enough is enough.”

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