Legislation Targets Ohio Lawsuits Deemed Anti-Free Speech

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A proposed Ohio bill would speed up the process for resolving lawsuits involving disputes over expressions of opinion.

The bill sponsored by state Sen. Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, is dubbed the “Ohio Citizen Participation Act.” It’s modeled after a law in Texas and other states.

The types of lawsuits targeted by the legislation introduced Tuesday include landlords suing tenants over critical internet comments or domestic violence victims sued by perpetrators over public comments about their experiences.

The bill would not expand existing libel or defamation laws. Ohio News Media Association Executive Director Dennis Hetzel says the focus is frivolous lawsuits meant to deny free speech rights.

Other supporters include the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, Common Cause Ohio, the Motion Picture Association of America and Yelp.