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Controversial Conservative Commentator Headlines Committee Hearing On Campus Free Speech Bill

Karen Kasler
Commentator and former Brietbart editor Ben Shapiro (center) talks to reporters flanked by Aaron Baer from the Center for Community Solutions (left) and Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) and Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), the sponsors of the bill.

A bill that backers say would protect all free speech at public universities was on the agenda for state lawmakers’ first day back at work after the election. And its Republican sponsors got a boost from a national and controversial figure.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro was followed by security throughout the Statehouse, where he testified for the bill that bans restricting speakers and groups to small “free speech zones” on campus and sets rules for what the sponsors say would be equal treatment of speakers of all viewpoints. “It seems like a pretty measured bill in terms of its language. I don’t think it’s designed to let the KKK roam around free on campus, guns a-blazin’," Shapiro said.

Conservative groups say their messages have often been targeted with limits on displays and signs and higher fees. But the ACLU has raised concerns about this bill in the past. The sponsors say they don’t expect the bill to pass in lame duck and they plan to bring it up again next year.

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