Texas House Passes Bill To Protect Critical Speech

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas House has passed a bill that would protect free speech by barring frivolous lawsuits.

The measure is designed to discourage what are called strategic lawsuits against public participation. Some corporations have brought lawsuits against news organizations or activists to prevent
them from commenting on public affairs.

The bill by Republican state Rep. Todd Hunter allows defendants to request an expedited dismissal, if the suit is deemed a frivolous attempt to prevent that person from exercising their legal rights. According to Hunter, the bill is designed to encourage participation in public debate.

The House approved the bill unanimously. The measure now requires a procedural vote before going to the senate for consideration.