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Minn. lawmaker proposes revoking convicted protesters' student loans, food stamps

The Republican state senator's legislation would bar those convicted of crimes at protests from state financial assistance.
Image: Minnesota police arrest proetsters
State troopers arrest protesters in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on April 16, 2021.Chandan Khanna / AFP via Getty Images

A Minnesota lawmaker introduced legislation to punish any person convicted of crimes in connection with a protest by making them ineligible for state government assistance — including food stamps, student loans, unemployment benefits and health care.

The legislation, authored by Republican state Sen. David Osmek, would affect a litany of state programs. It faces a difficult path to become law because the state House and governor's office are controlled by Democrats.

The bills says after a conviction the person would not be eligible, "for any type of state loan, grant, or assistance, including but not limited to college student loans and grants, rent and mortgage assistance, supplemental nutrition assistance, unemployment benefits and other employment assistance, Minnesota supplemental aid programs, business grants, medical assistance, general assistance, and energy assistance."

The proposal comes in the aftermath of last summer's protests following the police killing of George Floyd. More recently, protests increased in the Minneapolis area after the police killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

The Minnesota state Senate is under GOP control but the state House and governorship are held by Democrats.

Republican lawmakers in more than 20 states have considered new legislation aimed at increasing penalties on protesters charged in connection with demonstrations, most in response to Black Lives Matter protests. Civil rights groups and Democrats have said the legislation would curtail First Amendment protections and adversely affect Black and Brown populations.

Earlier Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed similar legislation into law. Among a number of other measures, the bill stiffens criminal penalties for crimes committed amid protests that become violent.