The Alabama Senate, on Thursday May 30, passed State Rep. Matt Fridy’s (R-Montevallo) HB 498, with a resounding vote of 24-1. HB 498 is intended to safeguard freedom of speech on college campuses in the state of Alabama.
This bill would require taxpayer-funded, public colleges and universities in Alabama to adopt speech policies for their campuses that will protect the free and open exchange of ideas.
Outdoor areas of a public college’s campus were deemed a public forum for members of the campus community.
According to the Yellowhammer, institutions would have a 90 day window after the law’s effective date to submit their policies to the governor and the legislature.
This bill passed the House by a 73-26 vote last week after it was met with staunch opposition and heated debate from that chamber’s Democrats.
There was evident drama from outside of the Senate: Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) had to be ushered away on Friday after the senator started berating and hurling expletives at the Republican (R-Shelby County).
Singleton, the only “no” vote against the legislation, went against the remarks of House Democrats that believed the bill would look bad politically.
Four Senate Democrats voted “yes” while three were not present or chose not to vote.
One Democrat, Senator Billy Beasley (D- Clayton) – who voted “yes” on the free speech bill – decided to speak out:
“I’ve always believed in freedom of speech in the United States and certainly in the state of Alabama. On college campuses – two-year and four-year colleges – everyone has a right to their freedom of expression,” Beasley stated. “There have been occasions since I have been in the Senate when I have voted with the majority party if I thought the issue was representative of the people in my district or in the best interest of the state of Alabama.”
Another Republican, Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper), agreed:
“Protecting free speech on college campuses is a top priority for Republicans in the State Senate, and I am glad we could get this important bill across the finish line,” Reed outlined. “What this bill does is protect the free exchange of ideas on the campuses of taxpayer-funded, public universities. Nothing is more important than safeguarding the First Amendment.”
HB 498 also ensures that if protesters choose to intimidate an invited guest speaker on a public collegiate campus, the institution could not force the speaker to pay for security costs that have arisen from the protest.
After the Senate passed the amended version of the bill, the House concurred, sending HB 498 to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk.
An easy way to generate “safe spaces” on college campuses is to give all students an equal amount of voice under the freedom of speech.
By promoting the freedom of speech at the state level, students on college campuses across the state of Alabama will have a greater opportunity to interact with those with different viewpoints and promote the spread of discussion and debate.
Turning Point USA works extremely hard to execute the freedom of speech across college campuses! TPUSA is fighting for all speech on campus, regardless of safe spaces.
Under this legislation, all Turning Point USA chapters will face less backlash from left-leaning universities who try to silence their efforts.