Thursday, June 17, 2010

Michigan Solon: License to Kill (Free Press)?

Michigan entrance signImage via Wikipedia
The Duluth News Tribune reports that Michigan 7th District Republican State Sen. Bruce Patterson has introduced a bill that would require the licensing of journalists.

Thus far, no other Michigan legislator has joined Patterson as a sponsor of S.B. 1323 Voluntary Registration of Reporters. Patterson is hopeful his measure would promote credibility and ensure "good moral character" among members of the Fourth Estate. Under provisions of the proposed bill, "registered reporters" would have to belong to a "generally recognized media or press association or organization," and meet certain requirements pertaining to college training, professional experience, and published work, as determined by the state department overseeing the ink-stained wretches.

Ah, there's the rub, and the rub has a name--the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That whole: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." thing. You see, Sen. Patterson, it could have a chilling effect on a reporter covering Michigan's government doings, if within that government is an agency that can decide whether the watchdog should be licensed as a reporter (or at least get a dog license).

Patterson also introduced S.B. 1285, a bill that requires a deposit on newspapers.  "TUOL" believes Sen. Patterson needs to find another way to work out any problems he may be having with his newspaper deliveryperson.

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