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SB-472 Public postsecondary education: Campus Free Expression Act.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 04/07/2017 04:00 AM
SB472:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  April 06, 2017
Amended  IN  Senate  March 28, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 472


Introduced by Senator Nielsen

February 16, 2017


An act to add Chapter 5.2 (commencing with Section 66320) to Part 40 of Division 5 of Title 3 of the Education Code, relating to public postsecondary education.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 472, as amended, Nielsen. Public postsecondary education: Campus Free Expression Act.
(1) Under existing law, the 3 segments of public postsecondary education in this state are the University of California, under the administration of the Regents of the University of California, the California State University, under the administration of the Trustees of the California State University, and the California Community Colleges, under the administration of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. Existing law, known as the Donahoe Higher Education Act, sets forth, among other things, the missions and functions of these 3 public postsecondary educational segments. No provision of the Donahoe Higher Education Act is applicable to the University of California except to the extent that the regents act, by appropriate resolution, to make that provision applicable.
Existing law prohibits the Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, and the governing board of a community college district from making or enforcing a rule subjecting a student to disciplinary sanction solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that is protected by specified provisions of the United States Constitution and the California Constitution.
This bill would enact the Campus Free Expression Act. The bill would declare that the outdoor areas of public postsecondary institutions are traditional public forums. The bill would provide that a public postsecondary institution may maintain and enforce reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions only when those restrictions are narrowly tailored in service of a significant institutional interest only when those restrictions interest, employ clear, published, content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral criteria, and provide for ample alternative means of expression. The bill would require these restrictions to allow for members of the campus community to spontaneously and contemporaneously distribute literature and assemble. The bill would further require that a person who wishes to engage in expressive activity on the campus of a public postsecondary institution be permitted to do so freely, as long as that person’s conduct is not unlawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the institution.
The bill would authorize the Attorney General and a person whose right to engage in expressive activity was infringed through a violation of these provisions to bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction within one year after the date that a cause of action accrues, as specified. The bill would require a court that finds a violation of these provisions to award aggrieved persons damages of no less than $500 for an initial violation, plus $50 for each day the violation remains ongoing. ongoing, which shall accrue starting on the day after the complaint is served on the institution. The bill would set the maximum damages that an aggrieved person, or set of aggrieved persons, may receive in a case or cases stemming from a single controversy at $250,000.
To the extent that this bill would impose new duties on community college districts for implementation of its provisions, the bill would constitute a state-mandated local program.
(2) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Chapter 5.2 (commencing with Section 66320) is added to Part 40 of Division 5 of Title 3 of the Education Code, to read:
CHAPTER  5.2. Campus Free Expression Act

66320.
 (a) This chapter shall be known, and may be cited, as the Campus Free Expression Act.
(b) The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Sections 2 and 3 of Article I of the California Constitution protect expressive activities, including, but not limited to, all forms of peaceful assembly, protests, speeches, distribution of literature, carrying of signs, and circulation of petitions.
(c) As used in this chapter, “public postsecondary institution” means a campus of the University of California, the California State University, or the California Community Colleges.

66321.
 (a) The outdoor areas of public postsecondary institutions are traditional public forums. A public postsecondary institution may maintain and enforce reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions only when those restrictions are narrowly tailored in service of a significant institutional interest only when those restrictions interest, employ clear, published, content-neutral and viewpoint-neutral criteria, and provide for ample alternative means of expression. These restrictions shall allow for members of the campus community to spontaneously and contemporaneously distribute literature and assemble.
(b) A person who wishes to engage in expressive activity on the campus of a public postsecondary institution shall be permitted to do so freely, as long as that person’s conduct is not unlawful and does not materially and substantially disrupt the functioning of the institution.
(c) Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted as limiting the right of student expression in other areas of public postsecondary institutions. as doing any of the following:

(d)Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted to alter

(1) Altering the protections for expressive activity provided by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Sections 2 and 3 of Article I of the California Constitution.
(2) Limiting the right of student expression in other areas of public postsecondary institutions.
(3) Granting any person the right to materially disrupt scheduled or reserved activities in a portion or section of the campus at the scheduled time.

66322.
 (a) Either of the following persons may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction, in accordance with the limitation set forth in Section 66323, to enjoin a violation of this chapter, or to recover compensatory damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees, or all of these:
(1) The Attorney General.
(2) A person whose right to engage in expressive activity was infringed through a violation of this chapter.
(b) In an action brought pursuant to subdivision (a), if the court finds a violation of this chapter, the court shall award an aggrieved person damages of no less than five hundred dollars ($500) for the initial violation, plus fifty dollars ($50) for each day the violation remains ongoing. ongoing, which shall accrue starting on the day after the complaint is served on the institution. The total damages, excluding court costs and attorney’s fees, available to a plaintiff, or multiple plaintiffs, in a case or cases stemming from a single controversy shall not exceed two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) in total. If the court that finds a violation of this chapter has harmed multiple plaintiffs, the court shall divide damages, which shall not exceed two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) in total, equally among those plaintiffs.
(c) A violation of this chapter is established by the Attorney General or a person described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) demonstrating in an action brought in a court of competent jurisdiction either of the following:
(1) That a public postsecondary educational institution has a policy that does not conform with the requirements of this chapter.
(2) That a public postsecondary educational institution, by an act or actions of one of its employees, administrators, or any person contracted to perform a service at the institution or by the enforcement of an institutional policy, violated the requirements of this chapter.

66323.
 (a) A person shall bring an action alleging a violation of this chapter no later than one year after the date the cause of action accrues.
(b) For purposes of calculating the one-year limitation period imposed by subdivision (a), each day that a violation of this chapter persists, and each day that a policy that violates this chapter remains in effect, constitutes a new violation of this chapter and is, therefore, a new day on which a cause of action has accrued.

SEC. 2.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.