AUSTIN (Nexstar) — One of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s priority bills this session missed a midnight deadline on the Texas House floor Tuesday night.
All Senate bills needed to be read a second time on the House floor before midnight, and in the early evening Tuesday, lawmakers were still pages away from the social media censorship bill. The legislation was postponed multiple times after Democrats in the chamber used delay tactics to slow down debate on that bill and other Republican priorities.
The Republican-backed bill would require social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, to publicly disclose the criteria they use to censor or block content.
The Governor has also signaled support for the measure. State Sen. Bryan Hughes, R – Mineola, the bill’s author, said Senate Bill 12 aims to crack down on social media companies censoring content.
“It also requires the platform to implement an easily accessible complaint procedure for folks to submit a complaint regarding illegal content, stuff they see that needs to be removed, or the platform’s removal of the user zone content,” Sen. Hughes said as he laid the bill out to the Senate floor earlier this session.
He said the companies have been impeding on free speech, and pointed to several conservative voices being censored over the past year.
“If current trends continue, we can end up with a conservative Internet, and liberal Internet, and where we’re Americans go there and are further driven apart from one another, more frustrated, more angry, rather than having these common places where we can share ideas where we can hash it out,” Sen. Hughes said.
The bill passed the Senate 19-12, with Democrats opposing the legislation.
State Sen. Royce West, (D – Dallas), raised concerns about the bill interfering with federal law, and said it would ultimately be decided in federal court if it does become law.
“This particular bill, we know that it’s gonna probably end up being being in court, and probably ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, would you agree?” Sen. West questioned Sen. Hughes on the Senate floor.
“Yes, sir. It’s very likely based on all the monies being spent on the other side,” Sen. Hughes replied.
DeSoto Democratic Rep. Carl Sherman said he thinks lawmakers’ time would be better spent cracking down on hate speech instead.
“This is one nation and it does not do any good for us to allow free speech for anyone to say that they hate any group,” Rep. Sherman said.