Yesterday Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) introduced SB1950, which would have subjected political bloggers to some severe disclosure requirements under the Texas Election Code. The new bill could have seriously hurt a lot of political bloggers, especially those who sell ads on their blogs.
The Texas Progressive Alliance, an association of about 50 Texas left-wing political blogs, decided the bill must not pass, and geared up to oppose it in a unified effort. A couple of phone calls were made, and by 11:00am they were joined by at least 30 right-wing Texas blogs and a promise that more could be activated if necessary.
Then Harold Cook, a political consultant for Senate Democrats, approached Senator Zaffirini with the concerns of the bloggers. The senator withdrew the bill, saying she didn't realize the impact it would have on Texas bloggers and citizen journalists. The bill was dead because bloggers from both ends of the political spectrum had stood stood together.
There's more from Vince, who spear-headed the mobilization:
“Senator Zaffirini was very understanding, and had no intention to harm bloggers with this bill. She had a very bad experience in her last campaign with a website -- I won’t even give it the credibility of calling it a ‘blog’ -- that went pretty low in the gutter, and I think this bill was a way to address that. As soon as she heard that this bill would harm mainstream bloggers and citizen journalists, which are so important to the flow of information in modern politics, she immediately offered to pull (it)."
And lastly, more on Aaron Pena's HB-4237:
Citizen journalists and bloggers in Texas would have the same protection to write about politics and other matters of public concern as do members of the “mainstream” press under a bill filed today in the Texas House of Representatives.
House Bill 4237, from Aaron Pena (D-Edinburg), would allow bloggers and citizen journalists to be protected by what is known as the “Privileged Matters Clause” in the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code. Under the clause, newspapers and other periodicals are protected from being sued for libel when reporting on things that happen in a court of law, the proceedings of a government body, or meetings dealing with public issues.
If Pena’s bill passes, citizen journalists and bloggers would be placed on level footing with the mainstream press when it comes to covering matters of public concern. In addition to protecting bloggers and citizen journalists, the bill also adds “privileged matters” protections to bloggers who use technology such as webcasting and podcasting.
I give Pena a lot of grief often enough for his past support of Tom Craddick, for showing up in preferred seating at an Obama rally when he was still a declared Clinton supporter, and some other weaseley things. But he has his own blog, has attended our statewide functions, believes in us and supports our cause.
He done me proud with this legislation.