Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bills for 911 recording secrecy, high-school press protection look dead for this year

With the Kentucky General Assembly rushing toward the end of its session, it's apparent three bills related to open government and First Amendment issues are almost surely dead for this year.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo announced yesterday bills he and Senate President David Williams sponsored to create a legislative investigative agency would be put off "for the interim." And neither Senate Bill 30, which would prohibit broadcast of 911 call recordings, nor House Bill 43, extending First Amendment rights to high school journalists, has been listed for committee consideration. That means neither is likely to make it to the House floor, much less the Senate.

The sponsor of the high school bill, Rep. Brent Yonts, told the KOG Blog that he had been pushing hard for it to be scheduled for a hearing but without success. And while the 911 bill, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, and opposed by the Kentucky Press Association, will not get a vote this session, "It will be back in 2010, 2011, 2012 -- as long as Sen. Schickel is in the legislature," said KPA director David Thompson. "It's still a terrible bill."

Some 832 bills have been proposed during the session. As of Wednesday morning, 18 had been approved by both House and Senate, and 15 have been signed by Gov. Steve Beshear.

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