HCS/HB 576 - This act creates the "Cronkite New Voices Act", and other campus free expression provisions.
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN HIGH SCHOOLS (Section 171.200)
Under this act, the freedom of the press in school-sponsored media shall be protected. A student journalist in a public high school shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media, and material shall not be suppressed solely because it involves political or controversial subject matter.
The number, length, frequency, and format of school-sponsored media may be regulated by school districts and student-media advisors. A school district may restrict such media if it determines that the media is libelous or slanderous, violates federal or state law, is a threat of violence, or in other circumstances set forth in the act.
School districts are required to adopt a written policy regarding the freedom of the press and expression by students. Such policy must include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of student expression, and may include limitations on language that may be vulgar, obscene, offensively lewd, profane, harassing, threatening, or intimidating.
This provision is identical to HB 1940 (2018) and is substantially similar to HCS/HBs 743 & 673 (2019).
CAMPUS FREE EXPRESSION ACT (Section 173.1550)
Current law sets forth restrictions public institutions of higher education may place on expression. Under this act, public institutions of higher education are prohibited from restricting students' free speech only to particular areas of campus, such as "free speech zones", or establishing permitting requirements that prohibit spontaneous outdoor assemblies or distribution of literature. A public institution may, however, maintain a policy that grants members of the institution's community the right to reserve certain outdoor spaces in advance.
The governing board of each public institution of higher education shall, under this act, develop and adopt a policy on free expression before January 1, 2020, that includes certain principles of free speech, that are set forth in the act.
Such policy shall be made available to students and faculty annually, through methods set forth in the act.
An institution shall also adopt a policy on "student-on-student harassment" with respect to disciplining students for speech, expression or assemblies.
An institution is prohibited from imposing costs on students or student organizations on the basis of anticipated reaction or opposition to a person's speech. However, an institution may impose restrictions on speech that are reasonably related to a legitimate pedagogical purpose.
Current law permits certain individuals to bring an action in court to enjoin any violation of the law. Under this act, if there are multiple plaintiffs and damages are awarded, the court shall divide the damages equally among the plaintiffs.
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION (Section 173.1551 and 1)
Under this act, the freedom of the press in school-sponsored media shall be protected. A student journalist at a public institution of higher education shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media, and material shall not be suppressed solely because it involves political or controversial subject matter.
This act does not authorize or protect expression by a student that is libelous or slanderous, constitutes an invasion of privacy, violates federal or state law, is likely to incite students to commit an unlawful act or to violate institution policy or procedure, or is likely to materially and substantially disrupt or interfere with the orderly operation of the institution.
A student journalist shall not be disciplined for exercising his or her freedom of expression in school-sponsored media, nor shall a student-media advisor be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred or otherwise retaliated against for protecting, or refusing to infringe on the rights of student journalists.
Any public institution of higher learning that requires a student organization to have a faculty sponsor as a condition of recognition, shall appoint an appropriately related administrator as the faculty sponsor if the student organization cannot secure a faculty advisor.
These provisions are identical to HB 1940 (2018).