NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · TEXAS · Confidentiality/Privilege · May 30, 2007
Reporter’s shield bill dies in House
May 30, 2007 · The proposed Texas Free Flow of Information Act failed to reach a vote in the House before the current legislative session ended Monday.
The bill passed in the state Senate earlier this month, and advocates had hoped that Texas was on track to become the 34th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to enact a shield law that would allow journalists to protect their sources and materials.
The legislation was approved unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee, but it was derailed on a technicality last week when Republican Rep. Debbie Riddle raised a technical objection after only a few minutes of debate.
“At that point, the bill was effectively dead because it could not be recommitted to the committee to fix it and send it back out again,” said Michael Schneider, director of programs of the Texas Association of Broadcasters. “If we had the bill over to the House earlier, we would have just made the change, but there was no time.”
In a last-ditch attempt to push the bill through, proponents attempted to add the legislation as an amendment to a related bill that had already passed the House, but that measure failed as well, Schneider said.
Because the Texas Legislature only meets every other year, a reporter’s shield bill cannot be reconsidered until 2009.
Schneider noted that opponents of the bill “were never able to kill the bill on its merits; the only way they could kill it was a technicality.”
“We’ll definitely be back in 2009. We’re not giving up,” he said. “We have momentum, and we took this bill farther than a lot of people expected it to go.”
(S.B. 966) — ES