Sponsors of controversial bill regarding drivers and protests address Charlottesville violence

The North Carolina legislature has overridden Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's vetoes on Republican...
The North Carolina legislature has overridden Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's vetoes on Republican bills altering early in-person voting and restricting litigation by neighbors of large livestock operations who have complained about odors. (Source: WECT)
Updated: Aug. 14, 2017 at 4:52 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Rep. Chris Millis (R-Pender, Onslow) and Rep. Justin Burr (R-Montgomery, Stanly) released a statement Monday afternoon regarding House Bill 330. Both legislators are the primary sponsors of HB330, which says "a person driving an automobile while exercising due care is immune from civil liability for any injury to another if the injured person was participating in a protest or demonstration and blocking traffic in a public street or highway at the time of the injury".

The bill passed the House of Representatives in April by a 67-48 vote, but has not been taken up in the state Senate. It currently sits in the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate. Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) is the chairman of that committee.

"As far as I can recall, none of the House sponsors have asked for this bill to be heard in the Senate, and there are no plans to move it forward," Rabon said in a statement released through the Speaker Pro-Tempore's office.

Sen. Mike Woodard (D-Caswell, Durham, Person) tweeted on Saturday, "Given today's actions in #Charlottesville, HB330 that allows NCians to drive through protesters without being sued should die in committee".

The statement from Millis and Burr reads:

"It is intellectually dishonest and a gross mischaracterization to portray North Carolina House Bill 330 as a protection measure for the act of violence that occurred in Charlottesville this past weekend.  Any individual who committed a deliberate or willful act, such as what happened this weekend in Charlottesville, would face appropriately severe criminal and civil liabilities. 
The one-page bill is tightly tailored to protect innocent drivers exercising due care from individuals from blocking a public street or highway while respecting the right to protest according to the 1st Amendment.  
We denounce the violence, racism, and acts displayed in Charlottesville that run antithetical to American ideals of peaceful demonstration and the right to free speech.  Our thoughts and prayers are with those killed and injured, their families, and our nation as we grieve the tragic events perpetuated by those that wish to divide us."

The bill was introduced in response to demonstrations in Charlotte following the police-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.

Millis said "a combination of events that endangered the public, such as individuals jumping out in traffic attempting to clog interstates and highways, endangering their lives, the drivers and all of those behind the traffic jam such as fire and rescue and those attempting to get medical care" sparked the legislation.

Opponents of the bill said at the time it would allow drivers to drive vehicles through demonstrations without having any legal ramifications.

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