Illinois student press law halfway through veto override process

ILLINOIS — High school student journalists’ fears may turn to cheers as they edge closer to securing the stronger free press rights that they have dreamed of for nearly 10 years.

The state House of Representatives voted 98-19 to override the Governor’s veto of the Student Publications Act on Oct. 29 which would give greater press freedoms to high school journalists.

The Senate will vote during the week of November 10.

In a surprising move, Gov. Jim Edgar vetoed House Bill 154 on August 10 after it had passed the Senate unanimously 57-0 in May and the House overwhelmingly 109-4 in April.

Claiming that the bill would increase liabilty of school boards, the School Management Alliance, a coalition of school boards, principals and other school administrators from throughout the state, is asking residents to urge senators to vote no to the veto override.

The Illinios Journalism Education Association plans to respond.

IJEA’s executive director James Tidwell found the House vote, “pretty impressive,” but says, “We’re still working hard to make sure this really happens.”

The bill was introduced by Rep. Mary Lou Cowlishaw (R-Naperville) and sponsored in the Senate by Kathy Parker (R-Northfield).

Illinois legislators have been trying to secure a free expression bill for students for 8 years.

The current bill strengthens student journalists’ press freedoms that were weakened by the Supreme Court’s 1988 Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier decision.