OLYMPIA, Wash. - A House committee passed a measure today that would protect journalists from facing prison for not revealing confidential sources. The bill now heads to a vote on the House floor.
The House Judiciary Committee passed the measure on a 10-1 vote with no debate.
The bill would grant reporters absolute privilege for protecting confidential sources. That's the same exemption from testifying in court that is granted to spouses, attorneys, clergy and police
Currently, Washington has no shield law. But its courts have ruled in favor of qualified privilege based on the First Amendment and on common law.
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have enacted shield laws. A federal shield law had been considered in the 109th Congress, but no law was passed last year.
Washington's proposed law would provide a more limited privilege on materials such as unpublished notes and tapes. Under these provisions, the media could be forced to disclose that information under certain circumstances.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)