Texas campus free speech bill one step closer to law as Oklahoma leads the way

Texas lawmakers are one step closer to sending a campus free speech bill to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. 

When House Bill 2100 was introduced earlier in April, the author,  Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain, told the Daily Texan that his free speech bill creates a traditional public forum in all outdoor spaces at public universities in the state. While commenting on a similar bill in the Texas Senate, he shared that he believes that his bill is more complete because it protects the speech of employees and professors as well as students.

Texas governor Greg Abbott previously stated support for the Senate’s version of the free speech bill. Earlier this month, he tweeted “the Texas Senate passed a bill upholding free speech on college campuses. I look forward to signing it into law.” 

[RELATED: Texas tackles free speech after Trump exec. order]

After the student government at Texas State University attempted to shut down the Turning Point USA chapter at the school, Abbott also publicly questioned “if taxpayers should still fund schools like this.” In the same tweet, Abbott also wrote “there’s no place in Texas for this. Our state universities better clean up their act.”

If both chambers in the Texas legislature are able to write a combined version of the bill and the governor signs it, Texas will become the fourth state to enact a campus free speech law just this year. Matt Bevin and Kim Reynolds, the Republican governors of Kentucky and Iowa, respectively, have also signed campus free bills into law.  

More recently, Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a similar bill into law banning campus free speech zones. 

[RELATED: NUMBERS DON'T LIE: Trump's free speech executive order could cost colleges billions]

“Oklahoma’s public universities and colleges are meant to be free and open communities—a place where future teachers, lawyers, doctors, judges, community leaders, and voters can exercise their fundamental, constitutionally protected freedom of speech. This new law helps ensure that public universities continue to be places where intellectual diversity flourishes and both students and faculty are able to engage in the exchange of ideas rather than being censored on campus," Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Zack Pruitt said in a news release. 

At the federal level, President Trump issued an executive order in March that threatened to withhold federal research funds from colleges and universities that infringe upon the free speech rights of students. 

According to a Campus Reform report on research funding in higher education, schools in the state of Texas received $894,372,000 in research and development funds from state & local governments and $2,177,513,000 from the federal government.

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