Stop the tape: Kansas lawmaker tramples on a citizen’s First Amendment rights

Mar 12, 2013 by

TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas lawmakers have been busy working on legislation that would limit collective bargaining privileges for public school teachers.

Not surprisingly, an American Federation of Teachers-Kansas official tried to videotape a hearing on the matter in the House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee last Wednesday. But he was stopped by the committee chairman, reports CJOnline.com.

AFT-Kansas Communications Director Thomas Dewar said state Rep. Marvin Kleeb stopped him from recording because he didn’t want the hearing to end up on YouTube.

Dewar explained that his goal was to make the hearing available to union members who couldn’t be there, reports the news site.

“Our members are school teachers who can’t attend a 1:30 p.m. legislative hearing because they’re, you know, teaching school,” Dewar told CJOnline.com. “It seems they have a right to know what’s being decided about their livelihoods and workplace rights.”

It was nice of Dewar to explain his intentions, but he certainly didn’t have to. If committee hearings are open to the public, recording should be allowed.

Kleeb said he was adhering to a long tradition that allows credentialed members of the media to record the sessions, but not private citizens, reports CJOnline.com.

“Kleeb said the media is held to a higher standard when it comes to editing and production of such material and the policy is meant to protect those who come to the legislature to testify,” the news site reports.

What a pile of Kansas-style cow dung.

Each media outlet creates its own reporting standards, and the state has no power to regulate those standards. That’s precisely the way it should and must be.

And the media should not have any special access to government that average citizens don’t have. Every American is a reporter, with an absolute right to attend open meetings and report about the events at those meetings any way they choose.

Lawmakers are not allowed to pick and choose the type of public exposure they get. Well, maybe in Cuba or North Korea, but certainly not in the United States.

Rep. Kleeb ought to familiarize himself with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s what keeps Americans free.

via Stop the tape: Kansas lawmaker tramples on a citizen’s First Amendment rights – EAGnews.org :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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