Monday, March 16, 2009

Two press-freedom bills fail to pass

Two press-freedom bills are among those being tossed aside with just two limited-agenda days left in this year's regular legislative session. But the Kentucky Press Association vows to revive both next time around.

David Thompson, KPA executive director, said in a message to the group's members that SB 130, which would ensure access to voting places for journalists and photographers, had been agreed on by Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the State Board of Elections, the Kentucky Broadcasters Association and KPA. It passed out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, then "politics showed up" in the Senate Republican caucus, Thompson reported. The bill wound up in another committee, where it remains.

House Bill 43 would have guaranteed freedom of speech and press for high school student journalists, with limitations, and would have immunized school boards from criminal or civil liability for student publications. But Thompson said it "didn't come close to getting a hearing" in the House Education Committee.

Thompson promised that KPA will lobby for both bills in 2010. The legislature may have a special session later this year but it is expected to be limited to budget-related issues. It returns next week to reconsider any vetoed bills and perhaps some held up by House-Senate disagreement.

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