Campus ‘Free Speech’ Bill Backed by Louisianan Lawmakers

BATON ROUGE, La. — Legislation seeking to protect controversial speakers’ appearances at Louisiana colleges and calling on campuses to penalize students who disrupt them has won final passage from lawmakers, but only after its punishment provisions were watered down.

Rep. Lance Harris, chairman of the House Republican Delegation, has said his bill is a response to university decisions to scrap events like Berkeley’s canceling of conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s speech.

Harris’ proposal — given final passage with a 94-1 House vote Tuesday — calls on colleges to establish sanctions for students who interfere with “the free expression of others.” But provisions that would have established mandatory penalties and that would have allowed campuses to be sued were stripped by the Senate.

The measure heads to the governor for consideration.