By Skyler Swisher
State lawmakers are moving forward with a Gov. Ron DeSantis-inspired push to make it easier for prominent people to sue media outlets for defamation, setting the stage for a potential First Amendment clash in the courts.
The Legislature is set to take up the measure that challenges longstanding protections for the press established by the U.S Supreme Court.
Rep. Alex Andrade, R-Pensacola, filed an initial version of the bill on Monday, which was withdrawn and replaced with a new one with added provisions (HB 991) on Tuesday. His office did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The legislation proposes sweeping changes to Florida’s libel and defamation law. It presumes information from anonymous sources to be false and removes protections that allow journalists to shield the identity of sources if they are sued. It limits the definition of who would qualify as a public figure.