Legislature adjourns before taking action on shield law
FLORIDA–A Senate bill that would have given journalists a privilege to keep certain information confidential and to refrain from appearing as witnesses under subpoena died in the Senate Judiciary Committee in early May with the end of the legislative session. A similar bill in the House also expired after the Civil Justice and Claims Committee approved it and sent it back to the House. Committee staff said both bills will be re-introduced next session.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Don Sullivan (R-Seminole), would have provided journalists with a qualified privilege to refrain from disclosing confidential sources and information when served with a subpoena. Under the bill, journalists would have been required to give testimony only if the party requesting the information could show that it would be relevant to the proceeding, that it could not be obtained from an alternative source, and that there would be a compelling need for disclosure.
The bill was delayed after Sen. Fred Dudley (R-Cape Coral), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, proposed significant amendments, including one that would have limited the application of the privilege to criminal cases only. (S.B. 304; H.B. 71)