The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

Florida Libel Reform Bills Die in Legislature


I wrote about the highest-profile feature of the bills—the attempt to get New York Times v. Sullivan overruled—earlier this month, and I was meaning to write about the other portions, but I just learned (see Florida Politics [Jacob Ogles], posted last Friday) that the bills have been shelved:

Sponsors in both the House and Senate confirm they have ceased negotiations on the measure. The legislation, which drew criticism from media voices across the political spectrum, would have lowered the threshold to sue media outlets and others.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Jason Brodeur, a Lake Mary Republican, in the Senate (SB 1220) and Rep. Alex Andrade, a Pensacola Republican, in the House (HB 991).

The legislation advanced through the House Civil Justice Subcommittee but appeared stalled awaiting a House Judiciary Committee hearing. Sources earlier this week told Florida Politics the bill was "dead" in the House.

The Senate bill, after clearing a Senate Judiciary vote, was scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee on three separate occasions, but was temporarily postponed each time. Senators did not take up the bill at a hearing on Wednesday.

Now, Senate sources say negotiations between the chambers have ceased….

There were a "wide variety" of differences between the House and Senate, and the legislation is now being shelved for the duration of the Legislative Session.

Thanks to the Media Law Resource Center (MLRC) MediaLawDaily for the pointer.