Bill to prohibit demonstrations near funerals wins committee approval

Legislation to prohibit demostrations within 300 feet of funerals or memorial services won approval 11-3 in an Assembly committee today, despite concerns it might violate free speech rights.

The Assembly Judiciary Committeee backed Assembly Bill 1, a proposal by Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Las Vegas, that began two years as a bill to prevent protests at military funerals. That bill failed, but Stewart  returned this year with a new version.

Under the bill, demonstrations, including those using voice amphilificaion equipment, would be  outlawed within 300 feet of any funeral.

Stewart sought the bill because members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church have showed up at military funerals to disrupt services and shout hateful slogans.

During the hearing today,  Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, suggested an amendment to prohibit demostrations in front of family planning clinics. He said the church also protests there.

But that amendment was not adopted as members said it would kill any chance of the bill passing.

Contact Review-Journal Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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