Bill targeting Occupy Nashville will hit homeless

Bill targeting Occupy Nashville will hit homeless (Image 1)
Bill targeting Occupy Nashville will hit homeless (Image 1)

The House is taking up a bill Monday that was designed to evict Occupy Nashville but could also be used to jail homeless people around the state.

The “Equal Access to Public Property Act of 2012” makes it a crime to camp on any state-owned land that is not specifically designated for camping.

The definition of camping is very broad.  It includes storing personal belongings, digging and cooking.

Those violating the proposed law could have their belongings seized and face nearly a year in jail or a $2,500 fine or both.

Senate sponsor Dolores Gresham said in an interview the intent of the bill was not to target the homeless but to make the grounds around the Capitol available to everyone by clearing out the permanent encampment of protesters.

A final vote to ban occupiers from camping on public land is underway at Capitol Hill Monday.

The House will vote on an amended version of the bill Monday. The Senate approved the measure 20-10 last Thursday.

The original bill passed the House 70-26 on February 23.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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