By: DAVID NOACK
Pols take sword to ‘shield’ bill
A bill that would give reporters in North Carolina limited protection from having to testify and reveal their sources in court faces an uncertain future.
While members of the North Carolina Press Association and key editors at newspapers across the state had expected the so-called shield law proposal to be approved by state lawmakers without much trouble, the measure has become bogged down and even weakened while going through the lawmaking process.
Officials are discussing whether to live with the weakened version of the bill or to ask that the measure be sent to a conference committee of the state House and Senate.
Teri Saylor, executive director of the press association, says they may just let the amended version pass, rather than taking the chance of having the bill go before a legislative conference committee.
Last week, the House, by a 91-21 vote, passed the Senate version of the bill, and, in an unusual move, later recalled it and tacked on a couple of amendments, including one that weakened the proposed law.
The original language in the bill said there needed to be “clear and convincing evidence” that the testimony was critical and not available elsewhere. But one of the amendments, which was passed by a 105-6 vote, said those seeking testimony would only have to show a “greater weight of evidence,” a lower legal threshold.
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