Bill Summary for H 527 (2017-2018)

Summary date: 

Apr 24 2017

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2017-2018 Session
House Bill 527 (Public) Filed Wednesday, March 29, 2017
AN ACT TO RESTORE AND PRESERVE FREE SPEECH ON THE CAMPUSES OF THE CONSTITUENT INSTITUTIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA.
Intro. by Millis, Jordan.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

Amends proposed GS 116-300 by modifying some of the policies required to be adopted by the UNC Board of Governors (BOG) relating to free expression. Prohibits constituent institutions from taking action as an institution on public policy controversies in a way that requires students, faculty, or administrators to publicly express a given view of social policy (previously did not include administrators). Establishes that park areas, sidewalks, plazas, and similar spaces on campuses of the constituent institutions are traditional public forums, open on the same terms to any speaker. Establishes that other areas of the campuses of the constituent institutions are nonpublic forums consistent with First Amendment jurisprudence. Provides that campuses of constituent institutions are open to any speaker whom students, student groups, or members of the faculty are invited, consistent with First Amendment Jurisprudence, including reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions adopted by the institution. Requires the constituent institution to implement a range of disciplinary actions for anyone under the jurisdiction of the institution who substantially disrupts the functioning of the institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others, including protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in and listen to expressive activity when the expressive activity has been scheduled pursuant to this policy or is located in a nonpublic forum. Adds to the policy concerning student disciplinary cases to expand the policy to include cases for expressive speech (previously only covered expressive conduct), and adds that the right to active assistance of counsel provided for in the policy must be consistent with GS 116-40.11.

Adds a new provision to proposed GS 116-301, directing the BOG to establish the Committee on Free Expression, providing that the public reporting requirement can be met by publishing the report on the UNC System's website. 

Amends proposed GS 116-303, which permits constituent institutions to restrict student expression for expressive activity not protected by the First Amendment. Modifies and adds to the list of expressive activity not protected by the First Amendment which constituent institutions can restrict as follows. Eliminates the descriptions of the types of harassment and instead lists unlawful harassment as an activity that can be restricted. Permits reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on expressive activities consistent with GS 116-300(3) (previously, permitted narrowly tailored restrictions of the same). Adds a new provision to permit the restriction of speech that interferes with the treatment of patients. 

Renames proposed GS 116-304 to Limitations of liability (previously, Actions to enforce the provisions of this Article). Deletes subsections (a) through (d) pertaining to bringing an action against a constituent institution for a violation of the statute. Expands the immunity provisions to now provide immunity from personal liability for any chancellor, officer, employee, or member of the Board of Trustees of a constituent institution or the President, office, employee, or member of the BOG for acts taken pursuant to their official duties. Also establishes immunity for the UNC System or a constituent institution for relocating or restricting expressive activity permitted by the act following a reasonable determination that there exists an articulable and significant threat to the health and safety or other individuals, or that the continuing or functioning of campus operations cannot be reasonably remedied except by relocating or restricting expressive activity.

Deletes the requirement for a policy assigning duty of ensuring compliance to the institutions' diversity office and instead requires a policy requiring each constituent institution to identify the officer, office, or department responsible for compliance. 

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