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Update: Free Flow Act

The Senate Jurisprudence Committee yesterday voted 6-0 to adopt a committee substitute for SB 915 by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston and Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock.

The bill was sent to the Senate local calendar, where uncontested bills go for floor action.

This is an unprecedented move for this legislation which has seen its fair share of contentious Senate floor debate over the past two legislative sessions.

Voting YES

  • Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, Chairman
  • Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, Vice Chairman
  • Sen. John J. Carona, R-Dallas
  • Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, Co-Author of SB 915
  • Sen. Chris Harris, R-Arlington
  • Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen

Voting NO: None

Absent: Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin

Earlier this week, the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee voted unanimously (11-0) to approve a committee substitute for the House version of the bill, HB 670 by Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer, D-San Antonio.

 Voting YES

  • Rep. Todd Hunter, R - Corpus Christi, Chairman
  • Rep. Bryan Hughes, R - Mineola, Vice Chairman
  • Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D - Dallas
  • ep. Dan Branch, R - Dallas
  • Rep. Will Hartnett, R - Dallas
  • Rep. Jim Jackson, R - Carrollton
  • Rep. David Leibowitz, D - San Antonio
  • Rep. Tryon Lewis, R - Odessa
  • Rep. Jerry Madden, R - Richardson
  • Rep. Armando "Mando" Martinez, D - Weslaco
  • Rep. Beverly Woolley, R - Houston 

Voting NO: None

Both committee actions are due in large part to a marathon 13-hour bill language negotiation session last week. 

Chairman Hunter personally led the discussions between media representatives and the prosecutorial community which led to the compromise language in each committee substitute.

The legislation would create a qualified privilege for protecting confidential sources and journalist work product. 

This Friday's TAB Billwatch will include a review of the FFOIA bill's key elements and an explanation of how it protects newsrooms and benefits the public. 

We'll also have an update on other bills heard in committee this week and a review of new legislation that has been filed in the 81st Texas Legislature.

Newsrooms can learn more about this issue and how the law functions in 36 other states at

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