INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that would have protected student journalists from potential administrative censorship died in the Indiana House on Monday.
House Bill 1016 failed 47-46. Fifty-one votes, or a “constitutional majority,” were needed for the legislation to move forward.
The bill aimed to protect student publications or broadcasts from administrative overstep by outlining which scenarios school administrations could censor. According to the bill, content that was deemed libelous or slanderous, violated the law or incited students to act against school policy or the law, for example, could be censored. The bill would also have defined the roles of students, journalism advisor and administrator. State Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, who authored the bill, says those against it came out “in full” and “misconstrued” it.
“The bill contained many safeguards and requirements to help ensure responsible journalism and behavior appropriate to a school setting,” Clere said. “ ... I kept making the point that right now there is no framework for student journalism. The only framework is absolute control by administrators. One of the things I said on the [House] floor was there was too much emphasis on the protections for students [by the opposition] and not enough on the protections for the teachers and administrators that were also contained in the bill.”
Clere also says he will most likely try again next year.
“I’m going to have to talk with a lot of people and get a better sense of what the specific concerns were or what the specific trigger points were,” Clere said. “ … I plan to keep working on it. There were quite a few members who very supportive and stood with me, grateful for their support and hope to be able to convince others to move back to where they were last year.”
Last year, the bill overwhelmingly passed in the House 88-4 and later stalled in the Senate, never being called for a vote.