Florida Senate - 2015                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. SB 1312
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              
                  Comm: RCS            .                                
                  03/11/2015           .                                

       The Committee on Judiciary (Simmons) recommended the following:
    1         Senate Amendment 
    3         Delete lines 19 - 84
    4  and insert:
    5  right in Florida of Florida’s citizens to exercise the their
    6  rights of free speech in connection with public issues, and the
    7  rights to peacefully assemble, instruct their representatives,
    8  and petition for redress of grievances before the various
    9  governmental entities of this state as protected by the First
   10  Amendment to the United States Constitution and s. 5, Art. I of
   11  the State Constitution. The Legislature recognizes that
   12  “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation” or “SLAPP”
   13  suits, as they are typically called, have increased over the
   14  last 30 years and are mostly filed by private industry and
   15  individuals. However, It is the public policy of this state that
   16  a person or governmental entity government entities not engage
   17  in SLAPP suits because such actions are inconsistent with the
   18  right of persons individuals to exercise their constitutional
   19  rights of free speech in connection with public issues
   20  participate in the state’s institutions of government.
   21  Therefore, the Legislature finds and declares that prohibiting
   22  such lawsuits as herein described by governmental entities will
   23  preserve this fundamental state policy, preserve the
   24  constitutional rights of persons in Florida citizens, and assure
   25  the continuation of representative government in this state. It
   26  is the intent of the Legislature that such lawsuits be
   27  expeditiously disposed of by the courts.
   28         (2)(3) As used in this section, the phrase or term:
   29         (a) “Free speech in connection with public issues” means
   30  any written or oral statement that is protected under applicable
   31  law and is made before a governmental entity in connection with
   32  an issue under consideration or review by a governmental entity,
   33  or is made in or in connection with a play, movie, television
   34  program, radio broadcast, audiovisual work, book, magazine
   35  article, musical work, news report, or other similar work.
   36         (b) “Governmental entity” or “government entity” means the
   37  state, including the executive, legislative, and the judicial
   38  branches of government and the independent establishments of the
   39  state, counties, municipalities, corporations primarily acting
   40  as instrumentalities of the state, counties, or municipalities,
   41  districts, authorities, boards, commissions, or any agencies
   42  thereof.
   43         (3)(4)A person or No governmental entity in this state may
   44  not shall file or cause to be filed, through its employees or
   45  agents, any lawsuit, cause of action, claim, cross-claim, or
   46  counterclaim against another a person or entity without merit
   47  and primarily solely because such person or entity has exercised
   48  the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a
   49  public issue, or right to peacefully assemble, the right to
   50  instruct representatives of government, or and the right to
   51  petition for redress of grievances before the various
   52  governmental entities of this state, as protected by the First
   53  Amendment to the United States Constitution and s. 5, Art. I of
   54  the State Constitution.
   55         (4)(5) A person or entity sued by a governmental entity or
   56  another person in violation of this section has a right to an
   57  expeditious resolution of a claim that the suit is in violation
   58  of this section. A person or entity may move petition the court
   59  for an order dismissing the action or granting final judgment in
   60  favor of that person or entity. The person or entity petitioner
   61  may file a motion for summary judgment, together with
   62  supplemental affidavits, seeking a determination that the
   63  claimant’s or governmental entity’s lawsuit has been brought in
   64  violation of this section. The claimant or governmental entity
   65  shall thereafter file a its response and any supplemental
   66  affidavits. As soon as practicable, the court shall set a
   67  hearing on the petitioner’s motion, which shall be held at the
   68  earliest possible time after the filing of the claimant’s or
   69  governmental entity’s response. The court may award, subject to
   70  the limitations in s. 768.28, the party sued by a governmental
   71  entity actual damages arising from a the governmental entity’s
   72  violation of this section act. The court shall award the
   73  prevailing party reasonable attorney attorney’s fees and