Legislation establishing “protection for freedom of expression for student journalists in public schools and institutions of higher education” unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with immediate effect. Committee chair and bill sponsor of Senate Bill 848 (The Student Free Press and Civics Readiness Act) Senator Rick Jones (R-24), called the bill a “victory for free speech.”
The bill establishes that student journalists in public schools and universities have a “right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media, regardless of whether the media are supported financially by the school or public institution of higher education.” It prohibits a school from exercising prior restraint against the publishing of an article unless the article was libelous or slanderous, an unwarranted invasion of privacy, a violation of state or federal law or an incitement to students that could cause them to commit an unlawful act, violate school policies, or substantially disrupt school operations.
SB 848 follows legislation enacted a year ago in North Dakota and which is now being considered in 28 states, including Michigan.
The MAB Board of Directors voted to support this legislation and promote its passage. The bill now moves to the full Senate chamber for a vote.