Free Speech Legislation

HB 315 – Election Complaints (2011-2012)

Link to Bill:

A bill to increase the penalties for making a false statement in campaign materials for state office, or in regard to any campaign for or against a ballot question or issue. It requires the person who made the false statement to pay reasonable attorney’s fees.

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Our take on this bill:

The ACLU of Ohio is concerned that this legislation would be used as a tool to chill political speech. HB 315 makes the penalties for false speech far more stringent, raising it to the level of a felony with a possible fine of up to $100,000. Further, the allegations are not settled in a court, but by the Ohio Elections Commission, raising additional serious constitutional concerns.