College 'Free Speech' Measure Signed By Louisiana Governor



 

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A measure aimed at protecting controversial speakers' appearances at Louisiana colleges has been signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The Democratic governor agreed to the legislation a year after vetoing a similar proposal sponsored by one of his top foes, House GOP leader Lance Harris.

The new law, which took effect immediately, was sponsored by Republican Sen. Rick Ward.

The Advocate reports colleges and universities have to spell out free speech rights and publicize those rights in student handbooks and on school websites. They have to make clear that students cannot expect colleges to shield them from opinions they find offensive or disagreeable.

Republicans in several states have proposed similar legislation.

In last year's veto message, Edwards said Harris' proposal was "a solution in search of a problem," echoing critics who say students already have ample First Amendment protections.

Ward's bill removed some provisions included in Harris' proposal, such as calling on campuses to penalize students who disrupt protests and speeches and setting up a 15-member commission to oversee the rules.

"These are two very different bills that seek very different outcomes," Edwards spokeswoman Shauna Sanford said.

"Under the bill by Sen. Rick Ward, colleges are limited in putting restrictions on when and where students can gather to express their right to free speech," she said in an email. Harris' bill, she wrote, "would have placed sanctions on students who interfered with other students expressing their constitutional right."

Ward, a Port Allen lawyer, said his bill was based on U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

"Once it is written that way, then it is pretty certain that you are not going to have any fear of any constitutional issues going forward," he said.

Last year, Harris said his bill stemmed in part from the disruption of conservative speakers at the University of California at Berkeley and other schools. Although no major incidents have surfaced in Louisiana, Ward and Harris said they have heard from students and others who worried their free speech rights were threatened.

"I think sometimes the best way to address things is to try to head them off before something bad does happen," Ward said. "I hope this does that."

Schools are required to submit reports to the governor and the Legislature by Jan. 1 on how they are carrying out the law. They also will be required to submit annual reports on any incidents aimed at limiting free speech.

Some college officials expressed concerns about the paperwork requirements.

___

Senate Bill 364: www.legis.la.gov

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

  • 2018 Regional Infrastructure Conference Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) Gulf Coast Chapter (GCC)

    2018.08.16

    Join the Construction Management Association of America – Gulf Coast Chapter (CMAA GCC) for the 2018 Regional Infrastructure Conference being...

  • COOLinary

    2018.08.01

    During the month of August, experience cuisine that delights your palate and is an integral part of the history and culture of New Orleans. This...

  • Upcoming Auditions Near New Orleans, LA

    2018.08.20

    To schedule an audition, please visit the website provided, https://ait.careers. Any questions about current or upcoming auditions should be...

  • Biz Night at Galatoire's 33

    2018.08.22

    Looking to promote your business and network with local professionals? Register today for Biz New Orleans' Strictly Biz Night. Join us this month...

  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana’s “Blue Door Blues” Gala

    2018.08.23

    The Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana is proud to announce its annual fundraiser, “Blue Door Blues.” The gala, scheduled for Thursday,...

  • Fund 17 Summer Happy Hour

    2018.08.24

    This fall, Fund 17 will open a new resource center for entrepreneurs. Join us for a networking happy hour and exclusive look at the plans for this...

  • Networking Happy Hour

    2018.09.05

    Join us for the next installment in our quarterly New Orleans networking event series! We’re opening our doors and inviting the regional bio,...

  • Jefferson Chamber Golf Classic

    2018.09.20

    Enjoy a day on the links with business friends, clients or prospects, and network with Jefferson Chamber leadership, board members and key decision...

  • Spice of Life Women's Expo Northshore

    2018.09.22

    Bring your friends to shop, socialize and learn at this fun-filled, energetic Ladies Day Out. Exciting Speakers Presenting Interesting and Relevant...

  • You Are Not Alone

    2018.09.25

    The Counseling Solutions program of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans is collaborating with the Substance Addiction Ministry of the...

  • Biz Night at Royal Sonesta

    2018.11.14

    Looking to promote your business and network with local professionals? Register today for Biz New Orleans' Strictly Biz Night. Join us this...


Show More...