Oregon governor to sign student free expression bill by end of the month

OREGON — Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) has indicated he will, by the end of the month, sign a bill that aims to protect high school and college student press rights in the state.

House Bill 3279 was originally scheduled to be signed by the governor June 29 and to go into effect July 1, but a spokesperson for the governor said it has not reached his office yet. Yet the bill should have been en route to the governor late last week, a Senate spokesperson said.

Advocates and government officials said they do not think any quiet politicking is at play, and that the bill — introduced by Rep. Larry Galizio (D-Tigard) in March — is merely overdue because the state government is busy wrapping up the end of its term.

Warren Watson, director of J-Ideas, a First Amendment institute at Ball State University, said he thinks the governor fully intends to sign the bill and is merely late in doing so because the state government is scurrying to process several laws at once.

“There’s probably nothing going on behind the scenes,” Watson said. “It just takes time, so we’ll have to be patient.”

If signed, the bill will become the first state law that protects both high school and college student publications under a single statute and the first measure enacted since 1995 that protects the free press rights of high school students.

Eva Rippeteau, Galizio’s chief of staff, said the governor will be on vacation for the next few weeks and will most likely sign the bill when he returns. Rippeteau said the bill is likely to take effect upon signing.