The Texas Senate approved a bill May 1 giving journalists limited privilege against being forced to testify in court or disclose confidential sources.
Dubbed the “Free Flow of Information Act,” the bill had struggled to win support of lawmakers concerned it would hinder prosecutors’ ability to gather evidence in criminal cases.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said the bill was needed to protect confidential sources who might not come forward with valuable information for fear of being exposed.
“This is to protect the whistleblowers,” Ellis said after the bill passed the Senate 26-5. The bill now goes to the House for consideration. The legislative session is scheduled to end May 28.
“The press plays a vitally important role in our democracy and must be protected from government intimidation,” Ellis said.
News groups lobbied for the bill as necessary to protect sources and rein in prosecutors who might try to use the news media as an investigative arm of their office.