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Missouri’s House of Representatives approved and sent the governor on Friday, Sept. 23, a measure to assure that school districts can allow their staffs and teachers to communicate with students through social media such as Facebook.
The bill amends a law passed in the regular session of the legislature earlier this year that critics charged banned social media communication, violating First Amendment rights to free speech.
“When we make errors, we need to fix them, and that’s what we’re doing here today,” said the House bill handler, Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia.
The current restriction was signed into law by Gov. Jay Nixon in July, but a Cole County judge blocked the law from taking effect at the end of August due to concerns about free speech violations.
The revision approved by the legislature requires that individual school districts adopt their own policies for using social media.
The legislative measure exceeds the governor’s special session call that limited lawmakers to simply repealing the provision. The state constitution restricts special sessions from going beyond the specific recommendations of the governor. The governor’s office repeatedly has said Nixon did not plan to expand his call on the issue.
The Facebook fix is one of only two bills passed by the special session that began Sept. 6.
The legislature Friday (Sept. 23) also passed a measure providing tax breaks to businesses in science, health and technology, but whether legislative approval will have any effect is unclear. The bill contains a provision that for it to take effect, the legislature also must pass the China tax breaks bill that has stalled between the House and Senate.