It seems no one wants to claim ownership of a bill that would forbid employees at state universities, technical schools and community colleges from using their official titles when writing newspaper columns or letters to the editor about public policy issues or elected officials. Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, said Wednesday that he wanted to make clear – “for any fruitcake, if they want to write something about me” – that he did not author the bill or ask for it to be written. “Merely as a courtesy to the chairman of the Local Government Committee (Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center), I introduced it as a committee bill,” he said. Nonetheless, Peck and Rep. Joe Seiwert, R-Pretty Prairie, testified in favor of the fruitcake bill. Wiser lawmakers on the committee recognized the bill’s free-speech problems and were puzzled why the restrictions would apply only to higher-education employees. – Phillip Brownlee
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