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Florida lawmakers ban ‘free speech zones’ on college campuses

by By Andrew Blake - The Washington Times  |  Published on March 7, 2018

Florida lawmakers have passed a bill that eliminates “free speech zones” at public universities and allows schools to be sued for restricting campus protests.

The Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018 passed Monday in the House and Senate by votes of 84-28 and 33-5, respectively, sending it to Governor Rick Scott’s desk where it awaits his approval.

Introduced by state Rep. Bob Rommel, Naples Republican, the bill contains a provision that prohibits public universities from establishing so-called “free speech zones” and instead designates generally all outdoor campus areas as “traditional public forums,” effectively keeping colleges from restricting protest activity to certain areas.

“I’ve received thousands and thousands of calls from students that feel that their right to speak freely where they want to in outside areas has been infringed upon and how can they stand up to the big university when they’re just a student struggling to get by,” Mr. Rommel said, The Gainesville Sun reported.

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