Editorials

Your right to share your opinion is threatened by this proposed state law.

The Texas Capitol building in Austin. The current legislative session ends May 29.
The Texas Capitol building in Austin. The current legislative session ends May 29. Star-Telegram

Let’s say you don’t like your dinner at a Big Corporate chain restaurant one night.

You write a comment on social media.

And suddenly, the Big Corporate lawyers serve you with a lawsuit.

You’d be shocked, right? After all, a customer should be able to complain.

But the Big Corporate lawyers push a lawsuit. You have to hire a lawyer to defend your right to tell the truth, or even to write an opinion.

Whether or not you win, it costs a lot more than the price of the dinner.

That’s exactly what might happen in Texas if House Bill 2730 is passed before the Texas Legislature adjourns May 27.

We’ve talked about House Bill 2730 here before. It was filed by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, to weaken a Texas law that prevents lawsuits silencing free speech.

Texans for Lawsuit Reform sent lawmakers a 25-page memo asking to revise the law, named the Texas Citizens Participation Act.

Texans for Lawsuit Reform traditionally takes a strong position against costly civil claims. But this proposed rewrite of Texas’ free speech law goes too far.

It would allow anyone to file a lawsuit against a speaker or writer regardless of whether the claim is valid. Big Corporate might sue over every online complaint and force defendants to pay huge legal bills, even if the case never goes to court.

Now a second bill, House Bill 3547, has been filed that addresses technical problems with the law but protects Texans’ freedom to speak our mind.

Speaker Pro Tem Joe Moody, D-El Paso, filed the new bill to amend Texas law without weakening it.

Moody’s bill would allow lawsuits to continue when a former employee is giving away trade secrets, for example, or when a family member is filing for a protective order.

But it wouldn’t allow lawsuits over TV comments or news articles.

That’s why we’re concerned. See, we are all protected by Texas’ free speech law.

The free press is protected from expensive and unjust lawsuits by the Texas Citizens Participation Act.

Now you can help us protect freedom of speech by joining the Protect Free Speech Coalition.

Tell your lawmakers to make small fixes in the law, not big changes. In particular, tell state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth. He’s on the Judiciary Committee.

Take a look at the website at protectfreespeechcoalition.com.

Join the Star-Telegram, WFAA/Channel 8 and The Dallas Morning News in upholding free speech for all Texans.

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