Senators’ Dueling Bills for New Hawaii Shield Law
News Release from Senator Laura Thielen, January 25, 2014
Gene Park has a post on Civil Beat listing just a few of the nationally prominent online journalists who are no longer shielded by Hawaii law.
That’s because the Legislature refused to extend our model Shield Law last session, in large part due to Senator Hee’s objections.
Interestingly, this year Senator Hee introduced a bill to “generally” reenact Hawaii’s Shield Law. So has Senator Ihara and a host of others (including myself).
What’s the difference between the two bills?
As best I can tell, SB 2974, with Ihara as lead, reenacts the model law exactly. Reporters may shield their sources, except in cases of libel (and other exceptions in criminal cases).
In contrast, SB 3096, signed only by Hee, does not provide protection for journalists’ sources in any civil action. In other words, if an official files a lawsuit against a reporter for publishing a story that is true – no libel – there is no protection.
Keep in mind, the official doesn’t have to win the lawsuit. He only has to file one, and can then access the sources. That has a chilling effect similar to a polar vortex.
SB 2974 is referred to Judiciary (which Hee Chairs and Ihara is a member); SB 3096 has not been referred yet, but likely will also go to Judiciary.