Monday, May 21, 2007

Hinck Introduces Free Speech Bill

Representative Jon Hinck, D-Portland, has presented a bill to the Judiciary Committee that would provide more places for residents to exercise their rights of free speech. The bill, LD 1540, would require malls and shopping centers to make reasonable accommodation for the right of free speech and the right to petition in common areas, as long as it does not interfere with business.

“For speech and petitioning to be meaningful, those who choose to exercise the rights need to be able to take their case to where people actually congregate,” Hinck said in his written testimony to the committee. “Today malls and shopping centers have largely replaced the traditional town center where people used to meet to discuss issues. For this reason, malls and shopping centers should host the forums that they have supplanted.”

The bill defines shopping centers as privately-owned complexes with at least five retail establishments and at least 75,000 square feet that allow access to the general public.

The bill would also prohibit shopping centers that allow the posting of announcements to reject postings based on their content. A work session on the bill was scheduled for May 16th in the State House.


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