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Campus free speech bill takes step forward in Michigan Legislature

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Legislation regulating free speech policies on Michigan’s university and college campuses moved forward this week.

House Bill 4436 directs college and university administrators to develop free expression policies that allow students and faculty to discuss anything. It would also require that campuses be open to any speaker invited by students or faculty members.

The legislation is in response to past eventswhere liberal student groups disrupted speechesby far-right speakers.

“I think that this bill is trying to over-correct and over-regulate the free market of ideas on campuses as it exists,” says state Representative Darrin Camilleri (D-Dearborn).

On Thursday, the state House Oversight committee approved the bill on a largely party-line vote. It now moves to the House Judiciary committee where it’s expected to undergo further modifications.  

State Representative John Reilly (R-Oakland Twp) is the bill’s sponsor. He expects other lawmakers will try to modify his bill.

“They may make changes; that’s always a possibility, there may be changes coming,” says Reilly. “I don’t expect a bill that’s as controversial as this not to have possible changes coming down the road.”

Groups representing Michigan’s state universities and community colleges oppose the bill.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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