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Rep.Leach, Jeff

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Texas House Passes House Bill 2730, Reforms Anti-SLAPP Laws, Adopts Strongest Free Speech Protections in the Nation  print page

by: Rep. Leach, Jeff

AUSTIN - After months of active stakeholder involvement and collaboration, the Texas House passed Representative Leach's House Bill 2730, adopting the nation's strongest protections for free speech while implementing landmark reforms under the "Texas Citizens Participation Act," also know as anti-SLAPP. With a final vote of 143-1, the legislation is now headed to the Texas Senate for consideration.

Upon the bill's passage, Representative Leach issued the following statement from the House Chamber: "While well-intended and significant for First Amendment protections, the 'Texas Citizens Participation Act' as written has been abused, misapplied and misinterpreted - resulting in unintended consequences for Texas citizens. The final version of House Bill 2730 is the result of a collaborative team effort, with a multitude of stakeholders working together over the past several months to perfect the legislation and ensure the strongest free-speech protections in the nation. I am proud of the broad coalition that stands behind this bill and I am excited to have the overwhelming support of my colleagues in the Texas House.

The Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) was adopted by the Texas Legislature in 2011 to protect the rights of Texans to speak freely, associate freely to achieve their common goals, and petition their government without fear of intimidation from lawsuits or being buried in legal costs. Since its inception, various stakeholders have revealed that the TCPA has been misapplied in ways the Legislature did not intend, including family law and enforcement of trade secrets. As a result, various judges, lawyers and other parties have called for revising the statute to ensure clarification and prevent misuse. House Bill 2730 addresses these concerns in the following ways:

Eliminates abuses in current statute by creating specific exemptions to clearly address each area of law for which the TCPA was intended;
Adopts protections for the media that meet the strongest anti-SLAPP laws in the United States;
Provides protections far beyond constitutional rights of free speech by ensuring that participation in government and statements about public officials, public figures, and the famous or notorious are protected;
Protects victims and alleged victims of family violence and sexual assault by adding civil protections for victims who share their stories either publicly or privately;
Prevents anti-SLAPP motions from being used against procedural motions;
Ensures that communications about topics of public interest are protected.

House Bill 2730 is a direct result of numerous stakeholder meetings and includes various agreed-upon provisions from parties directly involved during the TCPA's original formation in 2011.

CONTACT: Mary McClure

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Capitol Address:
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P.O. Box 2910

Austin, TX 78768

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Allen, TX 75013

(972) 908-3358