Other state free press bills take a slow pace

State legislation to counteract the Supreme Court’s 1988 Hazelwood decision has seen little success thus far in 1998.Despite their near success last year, plans to push a student press rights bill through the Illinois state legislature are at a temporary halt.In January, state Representative Mary Lou Cowlishaw, R-Naperville, introduced a bill identical to the one vetoed by Gov. James Edgar in August of last year, but supporters of the bill feel that they must wait until 1999 when a fresh face resides in the state1s highest office.Cowlishaw met with representatives from the governor’s office in February and requested that they draft a bill Edgar would sign. The bill proposed by the governor’s office, however, was not acceptable to Cowlishaw, who considers it “pabulum” because “it doesn’t do anything.””It would diminish student press rights,” she said. So for now, Cowlishaw is resigned to wait until Edgar is out of office, as he announced that he will not seek reelection this year.Edgar’s veto of the previous anti-Hazelwood legislation was almost overridden, but Illinois school principals flooded the state Senate with letters demanding that they allow the veto to stand. Yet the group that had most strongly opposed the legislation, the School Management Alliance, has shifted to a neutral stance.Edgar will not have another opportunity to veto the bill, in part because the state legislature is swamped with other business. “It’s the legislative process stopping us now,” said James Tidwell, a professor at Eastern Illinois University.In other anti-Hazelwood news, state Rep. Joan Bray, D-University City, again filed a student press bill to aid Missouri’s student press. Missouri Bill 1567 marked her fourth attempt to restore the freedom that was lost with the Supreme Court’s 1988 ruling. However, the bill did not have enough support and died in the Judiciary Committee.In Arizona, the Student Publications Act, Bill 1361, introduced by state Sen. Joe Eddie Lopez, D-Phoenix, died in February when the Education Committee declined to hear it.