BOISE -- A Senate panel approved new rules governing protests at state buildings surrounding the Idaho Capitol, but eliminated some proposed limitations on where and how long people can gather, for fear they would have encroached on constitutionally-protected free speech.

The Senate State Affairs Committee spent nearly two hours on the rules Wednesday, drawn up by the Department of Administration last year in a bid to prevent long-term protests like Occupy Boise.

The House still must take up the matter, where its State Affairs Committee has planned hearings.

Even though time and location limits were eliminated, the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued Idaho over the rules, said it remains concerned.

Seven Republicans voted for the modified rules.

However, two Democrats on the panel wanted them rejected in their totality.

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