Gov. Dayton Vetoes 'Guilty by Association' Bill that Favored Outside Corporate Interests Over MN Democracy

LSP Applauds Rejection of Legislation that Would Have Stifled Dissent & Free Speech

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — The Land Stewardship Project applauded the announcement today that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has vetoed Senate File 3463, a bill driven by outside corporate interests with the intent to chill dissent and curtail free speech. The “Guilty by Association” bill would have imposed criminal and financial liability on those who attend or support a peaceful protest where critical infrastructure is damaged by a separate individual. During the announcement, Governor Dayton said he was concerned it could lead to conspiracy charges for “mere conversations.”

The proposal came directly from the corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC works to advance large corporate interests at the expense of the public good and democratic values. This bill was modeled after a bill passed in Oklahoma, and its approach is openly promoted on ALEC’s website.

The Land Stewardship Project, along with dozens of other faith, environmental, social justice, racial justice and labor groups, opposed the bill. The coalition’s letter is available here.

“Minnesotans value a vibrant democratic process and we won’t let it be undermined to serve corporate interests,” said Land Stewardship Project organizer and southwestern Minnesota hog farmer Paul Sobocinski. “We know that this process includes respect for free speech and dissent, which has been critical to achieving progress towards justice in our state.”

Governor Dayton insisted that this provision be removed from the Omnibus Supplemental Bill, and it was, but the Legislature proceeded to pass it as a stand-alone bill. In his veto letter, Governor Dayton wrote: “Although this bill is called an act of public safety, its contents would have the opposite effect. I would not support a bill that potentially holds Minnesotans responsible for other people’s actions with which they had no direct involvement.”