Adviser Update Summer 2016 - Page 10

popular law as a blueprint, I tried again. I contacted Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, to make certain he was willing to work for a law in Maryland. He was more than supportive. To introduce a bill in the legislature, you need a sponsor. Luckily for scholastic journalism in Maryland, State Senator Jamie Raskin (D) had recently risen to the post of majority whip. As a professor of constitutional law at American University, Raskin had twice volunteered to represent high schools suffering censorship in the state and literally wrote the book on student rights: “We the Students: Supreme Court Cases For and About Students.” After an email to his office explaining what we wanted to do and discussing the North Dakota victory, Raskin expressed interest. A series of communications followed about the possibility of a bill. We sent him every free press law that had been enacted. By late summer, Senator Raskin agreed to sponsor our bill. With a sponsor in place, it quickly became clear that I knew next to nothing about getting a bill written and passed. The Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association represents all of the daily newspapers and most of the non-daily newspapers in our region and had recently gotten more involved in scholastic journalism. Rebecca Snyder, the executive director of their foundation, immediately volunteered to work in support of our bill. While you can get any bill with a sponsor introduced, without someone at the capital lobbying on behalf of the bill, your legislation can easily fall through the cracks. Part of MDDCPA’s stated mission is to provide “legislative representation, and First Amendment issues.” Snyder took that commitment very seriously, adding the New Voices Maryland Act to the other bills she was working for at the state house. GARY CLITES Sen. Jamie Raskin, Press Association director Rebecca Snyder, journalist Karen Houppert and SPLC director Frank LoMonte testifying on March 2 in support of a student press freedom bill before the Senate. (Rebecca Snyder obscured). Gary Clites, MJE, advises The Patriot Press newsmagazine and WNHS-TV at Northern High School in Owings, Maryland. He holds degrees in journalism from WVU and the University of Maryland. He has been a columnist for the Dow Jones News Fund’s Adviser Update for 20 years. Clites has a CSPA Gold Key and was a 2004 DJNF Distinguished Adviser. He is acting president of the Maryland-D.C. Scholastic Press Association. I can honestly say that our bill would probably not have passed without her support. She lobbied legislators in both houses on its behalf. She testified before both the Senate and House committees. Most importantly, when opposition arose to the bill, she worked to squash it. When a representative threatened to stall it on the House floor based on a misunderstanding regarding what the bill would do, she got a legal finding to show the representative that his concerns were not valid. He dropped his opposition. Frank LoMonte and I worked to build other support for the bill. Dean Lucy Dalglish of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland put the college’s support behind the bill. We contacted literally every newspaper in the state asking them to write editorials in support leading to numerous articles just as the bill reached the Senate. LoMonte wrote a great op-ed piece that was published in The Baltimore Sun. We also worked to engage teachers, parents and students in the effort. At our Fall J-Day at the University of Maryland, Frank LoMonte and I presented a session for advisers to inform them about the act. Before lobbying for the bill began, we contacted journalism teachers across the state to gather stories of the censorship they’d faced. The most chilling part of this entire process for me was the number of teachers who were willing to tell us their stories, but who were afraid to go on the record (even when we offered Sen. Jamie Raskin, Press Association director Rebecca Snyder, journalist Karen Houppert and SPLC director Frank LoMonte testifying on March 2 in support of a student press freedom bill before the Senate. (Rebecca Snyder obscured). popular law as a blueprint, I tried again. I contacted Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, to make certain he was willing to work for a law in Maryland. He was more than supportive. To introduce a bill in the legislature, you need a sponsor. Luckily for scholastic journalism in Maryland, State Senator Jamie Raskin (D) had recently risen to the post of majority whip. As a professor of constitutional law at American University, Raskin had twice volunteered to represent high schools suffering censorship in the state and literally wrote the book on student rights: “We the Students: Supreme Court Cases For and About Students.” After an email to his office explaining what we wanted to do and discussing the North Dakota victory, Raskin expressed interest. A series of communications followed about the possibility of a bill. We sent him every free press law that had been enacted. By late summer, Senator Raskin agreed to sponsor our bill. With a sponsor in place, it quickly became clear that I knew next to nothing about getting a bill written and passed. The Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association represents all of the daily newspapers and most of the non-daily newspapers in our region and had recently gotten more involved in scholastic journalism. Rebecca Snyder, the executive director of their foundation, immediately volunteered to work in support of our bill. While you can get any bill with a sponsor introduced, without someone at the capital lobbying on behalf of the bill, your legislation can easily fall through the cracks. 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