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Hawaii shield bill nears passage

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
Hawaii lawmakers edged closer to passing a shield law this week. HB 2557 passed out of a conference committee unanimously…

Hawaii lawmakers edged closer to passing a shield law this week.

HB 2557 passed out of a conference committee unanimously on Wednesday with judiciary committee members and journalists agreeing to a long-anticipated compromise on the state’s law protecting journalistic privilege.

The bill will now head to the full Senate and House for a vote early next week. Pending its passage, media attorney Jeff Portnoy, who has worked extensively with lawmakers to help draft the bill, is confident it will receive the governor’s signature.

“Absent a completely unforeseen contingency, Hawaii will have a shield law within a reasonable period of time,” Portnoy said. “Middle of May maybe.”

The bill covers both sources and unpublished notes and provides protection for nontraditional journalists, such as bloggers, Portnoy said.

He said the one part of the bill that gives him pause is the three-year sunset provision. Proponents argue it will provide prosecutors time to see how the law will impact actual cases.