Occupy Nashville bill passes the House

A proposal aimed at stopping Occupy Nashville protesters from staying overnight on the Capitol complex comes before both chambers of the Legislature Thursday.

FILE -- State Police arrest Occupy Nashville protestors early Friday morning Oct. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/JOHN PARTIPILO\ - THE TENNESSEAN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A proposal aimed at stopping Occupy Nashville protesters from staying overnight on the Capitol complex has passed the House.

The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Eric Watson of Cleveland was approved 70-26 after a lengthy debate on Thursday. The companion bill was to be heard on the Senate floor, but the upper chamber adjourned before hearing the legislation.

The proposal would make it a misdemeanor to lay down "bedding for the purpose of sleeping."

It refers to items associated with camping, "including tents, portable toilets, sleeping bags, tarps, propane heaters, cooking equipment and generators."

Under the legislation, violators would be fined as much as $2,500 and face up to nearly a year in jail.

Protesters have camped at the plaza since early October. At one time there were as many as 60 tents, but that number is now less than half.


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