PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – Gov. Dennis Daugaard has signed into law a bill that he proposed to address potential oil pipeline protests in South Dakota.
The Republican this week signed the measure, which imposes new penalties for standing in the highway to stop traffic or trespassing in posted emergency areas.
Under some circumstances, it also allows the commissioner of school and public lands, at the request of the governor and local sheriff, to block groups larger than 20 people from gathering on land under the office’s supervision.
Daugaard says he brought the bill to protect peaceful protesters and the people who live and travel in South Dakota. The governor sent letters to tribal leaders inviting conversation on potential protests.
Critics argue the measure could target Native Americans. An emergency provision means it takes effect immediately.