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Student free speech bill dies in Washington Legislature

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A measure aimed to protect high school and college students’ rights to publish and speak freely in school-sponsored media did not make it out of the House Education Committee before a key Wednesday deadline.

Republican Sen. Joe Fain, the sponsor of Senate Bill 5064, wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday: “While we are disappointed that the House of Representatives killed the legislation this afternoon, that too provides a valuable lesson on the uphill road that is the legislative process.”

The bill would have allowed students to determine what content to publish in their publication or broadcast without any threat of censorship or peer review from school administrators. However, action could have been taken if any content contained libelous or slanderous material, or was obscene or incited students to commit unlawful acts on school grounds.

Similar bills have been filed in Vermont, Missouri and Indiana. Ten states in the U.S. currently have student speech protection laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.