On Sunday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that he had signed Senate Bill 18, legislation intended to protect and expand free speech rights for college students.
The bill comes in response to countless incidents in recent years of conservative students being harassed, threatened, silenced and even physically attacked on college campuses for expressing their political views.
While signing the bill, Governor Abbott stated: “Some colleges are banning free speech on college campuses. Well, no more, because I’m about to sign a law that protects free speech on college campuses in Texas. Shouldn’t have to do it—First Amendment guarantees it. Now, it’s law in Texas.”
SB 18 requires that speech be allowed in all common outdoor campus areas and prohibits any isolated “free speech zones.” Additionally, it permits student distribution of written materials without approval from administrators, protects student organizations and invited speakers from discriminatory treatment due to their beliefs, and imposes penalties on anyone (student, faculty, or otherwise) who interferes with the free speech rights of others.
Colleges and universities will have to publish and submit a report to the state by December 1, 2020, regarding their progress in implementing these provisions.
And in addition to protecting free speech, Governor Abbott last Friday also supported taxpayers by signing into law SB 22, which keeps public funds away from the left-wing abortion lobby. This legislation fulfills the long-held pro-life objective of defunding Planned Parenthood, at least in the state of Texas.
The bill forbids the state and all local governments in Texas from funding any abortion providers, affiliates and lobbyists. Any exchange of taxpayer money with such entities is prohibited. This includes any “sale, purchase, lease, donation of money, goods, services, or real property, or any other transaction.”
As noted by LifeNews, one tangible effect of this legislation would be the eviction of a Planned Parenthood in Austin which for decades has been leasing a government-owned building for $1.
There were a large number of conservative priorities which the Texas Legislature inexcusably failed to pass into law this session, especially on the pro-life front. But defunding abortion providers was definitely a major bright spot, as was the Legislature’s stand for the First Amendment rights of students and also of businesses. Texas continues to be the most free and prosperous state in the country.
The only question is, will it stay that way?