Legislation challenging free speech making its way to house floor

KBTX News 3 at Six(Recurring)
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 8:15 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - A bill moving through the Texas Legislature has some concerned their first amendment rights might be in jeopardy.

Lawmakers are expected to look over Senate Bill 896 which could stop the protection of the anti-SLAPP legislation, which allows courts to dismiss cases they believe are only designed to financially penalize a defendant for their speech.

SLAPP stands for strategic laws against public participation and anti-SLAPP legislation has been around since 2011.

This could also affect news outlets by hindering them from telling important stories.

Donnis Baggett, Executive Vice President of the Texas Press Association and former editor and publisher of The Eagle newspaper, believes Bill 896 would be taking away free speech from those that need it the most.

“Texans value their individual rights, and those individual rights start with the first amendment. That’s why it’s amendment number one. And anything that would weaken that right is dangerous,” said Baggett.

KBTX is a member of the Texas Association of Broadcasters and the Protect Free Speech Coalition, which oppose senate bill 896.

If anyone has concerns about Bill 896 they are encouraged to contact their local representatives.