Washington state legislator introduces free press bill

Nineteen staterepresentatives have signed on to Washington state’s student free press bill,which would be the first to provide free press protection to both high schooland college student journalists in one state law.

An“overflowing” crowd of students and school officials attended theWashington state House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee hearingJan. 26 on HB 1307.

Read the full story at: http://www.splc.org/newsflash.asp?id=1422&year=

SPLCView: If passed, this bill would be the most comprehensive student press lawin the country. Of course, the history of such legislative efforts in otherstates requires cautious optimism, but the folks in Washington are doingeverything right and early signs are good. They have lined up key support fromjournalism education, teacher and commercial journalism groups and enlisted thesupport of student journalists throughout the state, many of whom showed up totestify and helped pack the legislative hearing room Jan. 26. Additionally, thestate’s Republican Attorney General has endorsed the bill. Supporters have alsodone a good job of addressing administrative misapprehensions that, for example,the law would create a circus atmosphere,  with young journalists runningamok. The Washington bill, which is patterned after laws that have workedsuccessfully in six other states for more than a decade, contains clearguidelines on what is and is not acceptable and establishes a sensible balancefor both students and administrators, something that does not exist in moststates now. We owe a special thanks to Washington student Brian Schraum forbeing the force behind this effort and to J-Ideas (www.jideas.org) for its extensive informationcollection about the bill.

Legislation: H.B. 1307 (Available online at:http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1307&year=2007)