Georgia House passes college campus speech bill

The Georgia House of Representatives . MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

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The Georgia House of Representatives . MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

Georgia’s House of Representatives passed a hotly debated bill Tuesday aimed at stopping people from heckling college students and guest speakers.

Senate Bill 339 passed on a 110-57 vote. The bill passed along party lines in the Georgia Senate last month.

The legislation was written by Republicans who’ve been worried about speakers, particularly conservatives, who say they have been heckled or harassed when making speeches on college campuses.

The bill also requires Georgia’s public colleges and universities to create less restrictive policies for groups trying to get permits to speak or post displays at their preferred locations on campus. Two student groups have sued Kennesaw State University in recent weeks, complaining its guidelines are discriminatory.

Several college and universities presidents have testified against the bill, noting the Georgia Board of Regents updated its campus speech guidelines last year. The bill’s proponents countered that the changes didn’t go far enough.