Media Literacy bill will help invest in the next generation of Coloradans

(Jun 3) – Today, two of Representative Lisa Cutter’s bills were signed in Conifer by Governor Polis. The bills create a media literacy advisory committee within the Department of Education to help Colorado students become more educated about the media and the role it plays in our society, and protect Coloradans against lawsuits intended to impede their free speech.

“As a country, our decisions are only as good as the information we take in to form our opinions,” said Rep. Cutter, D-Evergreen. “The media landscape has changed dramatically in the last few decades. Colorado’s students are facing the largest and most complex information landscape in human history and it’s crucial that we provide educators with the tools necessary to help our youth better understand the world around them.”

HB19-1110 creates a media literacy advisory committee within the state Department of Education that will work with a consultant to study media literacy, including best practices and available resources, and then report back with recommendations for the House and Senate Education Committees. Cutter hopes to sponsor legislation in the future using these recommendations to implement media literacy studies in elementary and secondary education.

At a March hearing on the bill, the Associated Press and Colorado Press Association testified in support of this bill, among others. A recent academic study shows that 82 percent of middle school students could not distinguish the difference between real news stories and advertisements.

Later, Gov. Polis signed HB19-1324, sponsored by Rep. Cutter and Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster related to  Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP).

“These lawsuits are an abuse of our judicial system–to threaten people and instill fear in them,” said Rep. Cutter. “We should not be using the court systems against people, especially low-income people, who are simply exercising their right to speak up and this new law ensures that.”

The bill establishes an expedited process for a court to follow in a lawsuit in which a person claims they were exercising their constitutional right to free speech or to petition the government. The bill also authorizes an award of attorney’s fees to defendants on this special motion to dismiss the lawsuit.. This new process will not only speed up the process but will also make sure that people exercising their free speech do not have to lose money defending their constitutional rights against these lawsuits.
“Our legal system should not be used to frighten people away from the free exercise of their right to speak. This law protects free speech and makes sure that our legal system is not abused,” said Rep. Shannon Bird, an attorney by trade.

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