Thursday, April 11, 2013

Special Report: Hawaii Shield Law in jeopardy

The state House on Thursday rejected Senate amendments that would radically weaken Hawaii's Shield Law, a law seen as landmark legislation when it was enacted five years ago.

Next on the agenda is the creation of a conference committee where House and Senate conferees work out a compromise for floor votes by both bodies. The Shield Law was seen as groundbreaking because it included bloggers as well as traditonal media.

The version as amended by the Senate creates categories of traditional journalists that would be protected, then deletes protection of any unpublished information, such as notes and raw video.

The House had previously expanded the exceptions so journalists would have to disclose information involving potential felonies, serious crimes involving unlawful injury to people or animals and all civil cases.

 If the Legislature fails to act, the Shield Law automatically expires June 30. You can keep up with how the bill, HB 622, is faring here.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Clayton Hee became the focal point of criticism by the media -- and especially bloggers -- because of his insistence that "so-called journalists" lie and falsify information. In a committee hearing (audio clip top), Hee produced copies of the famous 1948 Chicago Tribune "Dewey Defeats Truman" article to prove his point.

Hee continued that theme on the Senate floor, ultimately winning approval of his committee amendments on a 24-1 vote in the 25-member Senate.

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