Anti-SLAPP measure advances through General Assembly Central Virginia- In the fall of 2015, Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) was approached by several members of the Mechanicsville Tea Party, including Larnie Allgood and Major Mansfield, along with others from across the Richmond Region, Don Blake, Sylvia Wright, and Baird Stokes to name a few. He was asked to patron Anti-SLAPP reform legislation. Peace did not hesitate in agreeing to patron such legislation vital to protecting citizen participation in government processes at the local, state, and federal levels.
A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
Delegate Peace’s bill, House Bill 690, is a measure to allow the court to award reasonable attorney fees and costs in any suit dismissed pursuant to the immunity provided to an individual at a public hearing, or where a nonsuit is taken. This policy was incorporated into House Bill 1117 (Loupassi) and passed the House by a vote of 98-0 and the Senate by a vote of 39-1.
Sylvia Wright, catalyst behind the first amendment protection states, “On Feb 22, 2016 - combined antiSLAPP bills were passed by the VA Senate. Since it already passed the House, the approved format should now move forward for signoff by the Governor and be enacted as law on July 1, 2016. My sincere thanks to all who extend support for this legislation, especially Chris Peace as he is the delegate who worked with me to acquire this important change.”
Speaking to the passage of the bill, Delegate Peace asserted, “We must continue to ensure that our Constitutional rights are protected. Any limit on a citizen’s freedom of speech is unacceptable. Everyone has a right to redress their government.”
Peace continued, “I thank the leadership of the Mechanicsville Tea Party for bringing this important issue to my attention. I look forward to continuing conversations with citizens about legislative solutions that increase the quality of life of residents of the 97th District. Should you have a legislative idea, a question about process, or just want to discuss issues, please call my office to set a meeting.”
Henrico resident, Baird Stokes was quick to thank the Delegate for his quick action, “I was impressed at how quickly Del. Peace understood the issue and identified a course of action to further protect citizens and their right to participate in the actions of government. He has shown a commitment to the protection of freedom of speech and upholding of our Constitutional principles.”
Delegate Chris Peace is frequently rated one of Virginia’s most business-friendly conservatives. Peace’s voting record shows a consistent focus on opposing tax increases, protecting family values, defending the Constitution, and promoting job creation and a high quality of life in Hanover, King William and New Kent counties.