Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

New DOA rules for the Capitol should be scrapped

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The Department of Administration has proposed new rules for protesting at the Capitol. Among the rules is that permits must be requested at least 72 hours in advance of a protest by four or more people and that protestors may be held responsible for the security costs.

It’s the security costs that should really cause some concern. It’s too easy for the administration, regardless of what party is in power, to determine an excessive amount of security is needed for some event in order to make it cost prohibitive. Free speech at the Capitol should not be about which interest group has the financial backing necessary to overcome the capricousness of any governor or his Administration Secretary.

I understand the frustration with the protestors and their behavior in the Capitol, but the proper reaction is for the Capitol Police to actually enforce the rules on behavior rather than create rules that infringe on the right of free speech.

If Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch and the Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs can’t do their jobs properly, they should just quit. Or they should be fired. But creating new rules to try to cover up the incompetence of Capitol security that infringe on the First Amendment is just a ridiculous response to a situation Tubbs and Huebsch helped create with their pathetic responses to the protestors’ behavior.

As for the 72 hours, the only justification for such a rule is to arrange collection of the security fee. But if they aren’t collecting the security fee, and they actually enforce proper behavior in the Capitol to make sure the activity isn’t disruptive, then why require 72 hour notice? First come, first serve for a permit (another rule they don’t enforce now) should be sufficient.

And while they are at it, they can ditch the rule about cameras in the gallery, too.

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