Free Expression on Campus; Citing this act as the "Campus Free Expression Act"; Authorizing a public institution of higher education to create and enforce certain restrictions relating to expressive activities on campus; providing for a cause of action against a public institution of higher education for violations of the act, etc. An act relating to free expression on campus; providing a short title; creating s. 1004.097, F.S.; defining terms; providing applicability; authorizing a public institution of higher education to create and enforce certain restrictions relating to expressive activities on campus; providing for a cause of action against a public institution of higher education for violations of the act; providing for damages; Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: Section 1. This act may be cited as the “Campus Free Expression Act.” Section 2. Section 1004.097, Florida Statutes, is created to read: 1004.097 Free expression on campus.— (1) DEFINITIONS.— (a) “Free speech zone” means a designated area on a public institution of higher education’s campus for the purpose of political protesting. (b) “Outdoor areas of campus” means generally accessible areas of the campus where members of the campus community are commonly allowed, including grassy areas, walkways, or other similar common areas. The term does not include outdoor areas where access is restricted. (c) “Public institution of higher education” means any public technical center, state college, state university, law school, medical school, dental school, or other Florida College System institution as defined in s. 1000.21. (2) RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH ACTIVITIES.— (a) Expressive activities protected under this section include, but are not limited to, any lawful verbal or written means by which an individual may communicate ideas to others, including all forms of peaceful assembly, protests, speeches, and guest speakers; distributing literature; carrying signs; circulating petitions; and the recording and publication, including Internet publication, of video or audio recorded in outdoor areas of campus of public institutions of higher education. (b) A person who wishes to engage in an expressive activity in the outdoor areas of campus of a public institution of higher education may do so freely, spontaneously, and contemporaneously as long as the person’s conduct is lawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the public institution of higher education. (c) The outdoor areas of campus of a public institution of higher education that accept federal funding are considered traditional public forums. A public institution of higher education may create and enforce restrictions that are reasonable and content-neutral on time, place, and manner of expression and that are narrowly tailored to a significant institutional interest. Restrictions must be clear, be published, and provide for ample alternative means of expression. (d) A public institution of higher education may not designate any area of campus as a free speech zone or otherwise create policies restricting expressive activities to a particular area of campus. (e) Students, faculty, or staff of a public institution of higher education may not materially disrupt previously scheduled or reserved activities on campus occurring at the same time. (3) CAUSE OF ACTION; DAMAGES.— (a) The Attorney General or a person whose expressive rights are violated by an action prohibited under this section may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover compensatory damages, reasonable court costs, and attorney fees. (b) If the court finds that a violation of this section occurred, the court shall award the aggrieved party a minimum of $500 for the initial violation plus an additional $50 for each day the violation remains ongoing starting the day after the date the complaint is served on the public institution of higher education. (c) Excluding reasonable court costs and attorney fees, the total compensatory damages available to a plaintiff in a case arising from a single violation of this section may not exceed $100,000. If there are multiple plaintiffs, the court shall divide the damages equally among the plaintiffs until the maximum award is exhausted. (4) STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.—A person aggrieved by a violation of this section must bring suit no later than 1 year after the date the cause of action accrues. For the purpose of calculating the 1-year limitation period, each day that a violation of this section persists or each day that a policy in violation of this section remains in effect constitutes a new violation and, therefore, a new day that the cause of action accrues. Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2018.
In an effort to be an unbiased source of information, all text in this summary comes directly from government resources.
On Committee agenda-- Education, 02/06/18, 9:00 am, 412 Knott BuildingThu, Feb 1st 2018
Referred to Education; JudiciaryThu, Jan 11th 2018
IntroducedThu, Jan 11th 2018
FiledMon, Dec 11th 2017