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Free Flow of Info Act dead for session

A last-ditch effort to pass the Free Flow of Information Act this session died yesterday when the Texas Senate refused to take up any additional bills.

TAB had secured pledges from 25 state senators to allow debate on a separate House bill to which our sponsor was going to attach the legislation. 

The Senate decided to hold a private caucus this afternoon, however, and seven senators indicated they would block attempts to bring up any other legislation for the rest of the session. The names of the seven senators are not yet available. Since there are only 31 senators, the list of seven must include some senators who had pledged to vote for the Free Flow of Information bill.

?We're not certain yet they specifically intended to kill our legislation,? said TAB President Ann Arnold. ?Possibly they were avoiding voting on a controversial bill to create a statewide smoking ban.

?As we've said before, major changes in state policy often require attempts over multiple legislative sessions. We came closer than ever before this session, and we will launch another attempt in the 2009 Legislature. That effort will be better because of what we learned this year and will stand a much better chance of success.?

Arnold thanked all TAB members who pressed the issue with state legislators, the Speaker and Lt. Governor throughout this session and especially in late night and early morning sessions this week. 

?We would never have made so much progress without the great grassroots leadership of TAB's member stations,? Arnold said.

?I also must acknowledge the extraordinary leadership provided by the bill sponsors, Sens. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; Reps. Corbin Van Arsdale, R-Houston, and Aaron Pena, D-Edinburg.

?In addition, Senate staffers Jeremy Warren (Ellis' office) and Deon Allen (Duncan's office) deserve our heartfelt thanks.

?And, of course, our expert team of Laura Prather with SDMA; Paul Watler, Bob Latham and Chip Babcock with Jackson Walker; TAB's longtime lobbyist, former state Senator Don Adams; our friends at the daily and weekly newspaper associations and Bill Miller of Hillco Partners all deserve our deep appreciation.

?We are particularly grateful to Belo, Disney/ABC and Hearst for contributing financially to the effort and weighing in with additional insight, expertise and one-on-one pleas with state lawmakers,? Arnold said.

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