The Legislature finds and declares that:
(1) It is the policy of the state that the constitutional rights of citizens and organizations to be involved and participate freely in the process of government must be encouraged and safeguarded with great diligence. The information, reports, opinions, claims, arguments, and other expressions provided by citizens are vital to effective law enforcement, the operation of government, the making of public policy and decisions, and the continuation of representative democracy. The laws, courts, and other agencies of this state must provide the utmost protection for the free exercise of these petition, speech, and association rights;
(2) Civil actions for damages have been filed against citizens and organizations of this state as a result of the valid exercise of their constitutional rights to petition, speech, and association. There has been a disturbing increase in such strategic lawsuits against public participation in government;
(3) The threat of strategic lawsuits against public participation, personal liability, and burdensome litigation costs significantly chills and diminishes citizen participation in government, voluntary public service, and the exercise of these important constitutional rights. This abuse of the judicial process can and has been used as a means of intimidating, harassing, or punishing citizens and organizations for involving themselves in public affairs; and
(4) It is in the public interest and it is the purpose of sections 25-21,241 to 25-21,246 to strike a balance between the rights of persons to file lawsuits for injury and the constitutional rights of persons to petition, speech, and association, to protect and encourage public participation in government to the maximum extent permitted by law, to establish an efficient process for identification and adjudication of strategic lawsuits against public participation, and to provide for costs, attorney's fees, and actual damages.