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Missouri lawmakers have sent the governor a bill that restricts protests at funerals. As KSMU's Missy Shelton reports, lawmakers are trying to hedge their bets against possible court challenges.
The version of the bill lawmakers sent the governor restricts protesters at funerals from engaging in activities from one hour before the funeral until one hour after it ends.
But the bill does not specifically identify how close to the site of the funeral protesters are allowed to stand.
The bill sponsor, Republican Senator Charlie Shields says he wants lawmakers to send the governor another version of the bill...one that actually sets a limit of 300 feet for protesters.
Shields says he prefers the more vague language because 300 feet sometimes isn't enough to keep protesters away from a grieving family.
He says 300 feet would not have helped with a situation in his district where members of a church in Kansas protested a soldier's funeral.
He says it's best for lawmakers to pass BOTH versions so that if one fails to withstand a court challenge, the other one will already be in place.
Shields noted that it's unusual that lawmakers would pass in essence two versions of the same bill, hoping to have a back-up law in place should the courts declare one unconstitutional.
Several lawmakers voted against the version of the bill that's on its way to the governor...the one that doesn't give a specific proximity limit for protesters.
Democratic Representative Sharon Sanders Brooks says she's concerned about the bill's impact on free speech.
But the bill sponsor, Republican Senator Charlie Shields says a number of states already have restrictions on protests.
The law has a clause that stipulates it will take effect as soon as the governor signs it.