The State Assembly voted 61-36 late Wednesday night to pass Assembly Bill 299, which requires the UW Board of Regents to develop a Free Expression policy. The Assembly voted unanimously to adopt an amendment that deletes the Council on Free Expression from the bill and instead directs the Board of Regents to file a report with the Governor and Legislature on September 1 of each year on the implementation of the free expression policy.
Democrats argued that the bill has a chilling effect on free speech and repeatedly referred to it as the "campus gag rule." Republicans countered that the bill is needed to ensure that people of all political views can have their voices heard on campus.
AB 299 does the following:
· Requires the Board of Regents to develop a free expression policy that adheres to a set of criteria outlined in the bill. It instructs UW institutions to remain neutral on the public policy controversies of the day
· Requires the UW to suspend any student that violates the Free Expression Policy twice and expel any student that violates the Free Expression policy three times. Disciplinary actions would apply to individuals who "engage in violent or other disorderly conduct that materially and substantially disrupts the free expression of others." However, the bill does not define what the "free expression of others" entails.
· Allows any person to make a report that someone has violated the Free Expression Policy.
AB 299 now goes to the Senate for approval.