OCVA's anti-SLAPP Initiative
June 6, 2001
From the Corvallis Gazette Times
Anti-SLAPP bill gets final OK
SALEM - A measure allowing defendants to quickly challenge frivolous lawsuits designed to intimidate them into keeping quiet on public issues won final Legislative approval Tuesday.
On a 47-4 vote, the state House repassed the bill, which was amended in the Senate. HB2640 now heads to the governor's desk.
The so-called "strategic lawsuits against public participation," or SLAPPs, are often filed against people who speak out on development or other issues by wealthy opponents who then claim defamation.
The lawsuits are intended to silence critics who can't afford litigation.
The measure would allow defendants in SLAPP suits to file for a motion to dismiss - meaning a judge would quickly rule on whether the case had any merit and put an end to groundless claims before legal fees skyrocket.
"This definitely speeds up the process, and of course, time is money," said Rep. Kelley Wirth, D-Corvallis.
Jeff Lamb of Philomath campaigned strongly for passage of such a bill in 1999, as well as this year. "I'm confident that it's going to help a lot," he said Tuesday. "It's definitely a victory for (state land-use) Goal No. 1, citizen involvement, and freedom of expression - fundamental issues in how we conduct public policy debates."
He had been disappointed in some of the Senate amendments. "We'll have to have people try it in courts and see if it does its job," Lamb said.
Lamb worked for the bill as chairman of Oregon Citizens for a Voice in Annexations. Among other organizations that he said supported adoption were the League of Women Voters of Oregon, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Friends of Yamhill County, Oregon Farm Bureau, the state Department of Land Conservation and Development, urban-planning groups, and city councils in Corvallis, Philomath and other cities.
Lamb gave strong credit to Reps. Lane Shetterly, R-Dallas, and Kurt Schrader, D-Canby, for creating bipartisan backing for the bill.
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This page last modified on 2005-09-19 08:39.