Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
August 22, 2009
Contact: Tina Tran, (512) 463-0113

Ellis, Rep. Hunter receive Freedom of Information award

(Austin, TX) — Senator Rodney Ellis (D–Houston) and Representative Todd Hunter (R- Corpus Christi) were awarded the James Madison Award from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas for their work in passing the Free Flow of Information Act during the 81st legislative session. James Madison was known as the father of the constitution and the author of the first amendment.

The Free Flow of Information Act gives journalists partial protection from being compelled to disclose sources and certain work product.

Ellis called journalists “the fourth branch of government,” for the role journalists play in policy making and checks and balances. "With the face of journalism and law enforcement rapidly changing in the 21st century, the Free Flow of Information Law will ensure journalists and their sources are protected in their jobs of keeping the public informed," said Ellis.

Sen. Ellis was the Senate sponsor of HB 670 and the author of the Senate version of the bill. Rep. Hunter chaired the house committee in which the bill was heard.

Texas now joins the ranks of 36 other states and the District of Columbia to have some form of law protecting journalists and their sources, including California, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and every single state bordering Texas. The United States Congress is also currently debating legislation to enact a federal free flow of information law.