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Relating to civil actions involving the exercise of certain constitutional rights.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
In 2011, the legislature passed the Texas Citizens Participation Act. This statute was designed to protect the right of citizens to speak without fear of malicious and meritless lawsuits draining their finances and stifling their speech. These Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) are filed for the sole purpose of silencing speech that the plaintiff doesn’t like but which is not in fact defamatory.
At its core, the law protects people who have been subject to a meritless lawsuit by allowing them to file an anti-SLAPP motion asking the judge to review the merit of the case, and, if the case is determined to be meritless, toss it out and award attorney’s fees to the defendant.
In the eight years since this law passed, hundreds of Texans have benefited from this law by using anti-SLAPP to have meritless lawsuits against them tossed out and be reimbursed attorney’s fees by the suing parties. Not only does this law provide justice for people who have been SLAPPed with meritless lawsuits, it serves as a deterrent for those who would weaponize the civil courts as a tool to stifle speech.
Unfortunately, some creative lawyers have found novel applications of the TCPA beyond the intended scope of the law. This abuse of TCPA – turning it into an offensive weapon it was never intended to be – necessitates legislative intervention.HB 2730 would tighten the scope and applicability of the TCPA to thwart these novel applications of the statute while still preserving the core protections that prevent the civil litigation process from being abused to punish people for speaking out about matters of public concern.
HB 2730 supports limited government and individual liberty by protecting the integrity of the civil litigation process and continuing to uphold the strong speech protections provided in statute by the TCPA. We also support an amendment by Speaker Moody to make a couple technical corrections to the bill.
Beyond the agreed-upon Moody amendment, we would oppose any further amendments to this legislation which has been carefully crafted and enjoys broad support from an array of stakeholders.