Politics & Government

Kansas House OKs bill to protect citizens who speak out

The Kansas House gave near unanimous approval Tuesday to a bill meant to protect citizens who speak at public meetings.

House Bill 2054, which passed by a vote of 123-1, is designed to discourage “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” legal actions that arise from public comments in government meetings and online.

Companies will sometimes bring SLAPP suits against people who have criticized them either on the Internet or at public meetings, burdening them with the legal costs of defending against the suit.

The bill would make it easier for people hit with a SLAPP suit to get them dismissed, which supporters say will help protect Kansans’ First Amendment rights.

The only House member to vote against the measure was Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, an attorney. The bill now heads to the Senate.