Protests at Private Residences Could Become Illegal Under Proposed Bill

Feb 16, 2021

Protesting at private residences could be illegal if a bill passes the legislature.

Anti-mask protesters showed up at the houses of elected and appointed state officials last fall. Former Gov. Gary Herbert and State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn were among the targeted officials. 

In Summit County, Health Director Rich Bullough was also the victim of an anti-mask protest at his private residence. 

Rep. Ryan Wilcox (R-Ogden) is sponsoring a bill that could make residential picketing a Class B misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to $1,000 fine and 6 months jail time.

Under the bill, picketing has to be targeted and within 100 feet of property lines. People would still be able to protest through neighbors or past residences. 

During House Floor discussion Tuesday, Wilcox spoke about the purpose of his bill.  

"In response to the riots, in response to some of the poor behavior that we've engaged as a society...designed to help foster the actual free speech and conversation and dialogue that we need to have," Wilcox said. "While at the same time creating boundaries around those that are not appropriate in the course of that discourse."

He added that the bill applies to all Utah residents. 

"One of the most important parts of this bill is that it doesn't apply to elected officials or appointed officials or anyone else differently than it applies to everyone in our community. It is not about elected elected folks or appointed folks," he said. "It's about protecting the rights and the property of each and every one of our citizens."

The bill passed the House Floor Tuesday 71-1. It now heads to the Senate.