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Kansas lawmakers vote against shield law for journalists

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
A state shield law for journalists in Kansas was voted down in committee on Wednesday and sent to a council for further review,…

A state shield law for journalists in Kansas was voted down in committee on Wednesday and sent to a council for further review, The Associated Press reports.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-4 against the bill, which would have provided qualified protections for journalists who are asked to hand over confidential sources or notes in court, the AP said.  But that’s not necessarily the last the state will see of the measure, the wire service says. The committee has sent the legislation to the Kansas Judicial Council, which reviews the state’s judicial branch, for study and recommendations.

Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, a Republican, said the vote "doesn’t bode well for [the bill’s] future."  But, he told the AP, the Judicial Council has endorsed the shield law concept in the past.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia currently have some form of a shield law.  No federal shield law exists, and a First Amendment-based reporter’s privilege is not recognized by all federal courts.  Some reporters have been held in contempt, fined or jailed for refusing to disclose sources in federal courts.

A federal shield law that would protect reporters from having to reveal confidential sources was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on Feb. 11.