As you may know by now, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended the student free press bill (HB 1307) to remove high school students from the bill. The provisions of the bill now only apply to public colleges and universities. The bill then passed out of the committee on a party-line vote, with all of the Democrats supporting the bill and all of the Republicans opposing the bill.
In order to secure the votes on the committee, I had to agree to not try to add high school students back into the bill later in the process.
Even though the bill now only applies to college student media, it still faces a rocky road in the Senate. It still needs to make it out of the Senate Rules Committee, and then we will need to secure support from a majority of the Senators, and then the Majority Leader needs to agree to place it on the floor calendar for a vote, and then the Governor will need to not veto it. Your continued support and communication with Senators would be appreciated.
For those of you most interested in the high school portion of the bill, I encourage you to continue to stand up for your college counterparts. Not every college in Washington has a policy in place to fully ensure that their student paper is, indeed, treated as a public forum. Conflicting federal district court cases have created more uncertainty for college journalists. I also believe that passage of the college portion will build support and momentum for addressing high school student media in the future.
Like many of you, I became emotionally attached to this issue and thisbill. I know how disappointed and frustrated you are because I am too. The legislative process takes patience and persistence. So while it's OK to be sad about this, I ask you to also have patience and persistence. We all need to continue to champion the cause of student press freedom. You can count on my continued support.
I want to pass along my appreciation and thanks to Brian Schraum, who brought the idea for the bill forward and served as an eloquent spokesperson for the bill in the media around the country and on several public forums. He inspired me to introduce the bill and also inspired my passion for the issue. I also want to thank Mike Hiestand from the Student Press Law Center, who not only provided great legal analysis, but also proved to be a gifted communicator who was able to take complex issues and boil them down into arguments and language that even legislators could understand.
Finally, I was blown away by the tremendous support shown by student journalists and their allies from every corner of the State of Washington. The public hearing on the bill in the House Judiciary Committee was one of the finest moments of the 2007 legislative session. I can't express my appreciation enough to everyone who took the time to travel to Olympia for the hearings or who contacted their legislator.
Please know that YOU educated and inspired legislators to become champions of the issue. You inspired legislators like Rep. Pat Lantz (D-Gig Harbor), Sen. Adam Kline (D-Seattle), Sen. Brian Weinstein (D-Mercer Island), Rep. Brendan Williams (D-Olympia), and Rep. Lynn Kessler (D-Hoquiam). These legislators deserve your thanks and appreciation for their active support and assistance with the bill.
Lets get the college portion passed into law and then recommit ourselves to continuing to "finish the job" in a future legislative session.
Chair, Select Committee on Puget Sound
Friday, March 30, 2007
Statement from Rep. Upthegrove
Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-Des Moines) was the primary sponsor of HB 1307. He proved to be a great champion of free student press rights in the legislature, and worked hard until the very end to keep high schools a part of the bill. Here is his statement.