Despite outcry of journalists, House rule passes: restricting media access on House floor
Mar 1, 2022, 4:03 PM
(Spencer Heaps/Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY— Media will now be restricted in their access on the House floor after the Utah House of Representatives passed a rule Tuesday.
Despite the public outcry of journalists from multiple organizations, the rule, HR2, passed by the house was almost identical to a one approved by the Senate just weeks prior.
Previously, journalists that were accredited and approved by the Utah Capitol were allowed on the House or Senate floor after a session to interview lawmakers immediately following adjournment. However, this rule will restrict journalist access, requiring them first to get permission from the House speaker or the speaker’s designee in addition to the Utah media credential from the Capitol.
According to the Deseret News, Rep. James Dunnigan, the sponsor of the bill stated the rule is “not really designed to be restrictive. It’s just a continuation of what we already do.”
Dunnigan said while there isn’t a “major problem” with media being disruptive or intrusive, he has seen a few lawmakers who feel uncomfortable having cameras looking over their shoulders.
Photographers and Videographers’ rules were also addressed in the bill and are now required to obtain permission from a committee chairperson before standing behind the committee room dais during a meeting.
Journalists from KSL and Deseret News along with others spoke out against the rule prior to its approval by the Senate.
Deseret News expressed, “Media members were concerned with the resolution for two primary reasons — the first being that it could prevent photographers and videographers from fully recording testimony in committee hearings, and the second that it would make it difficult to ask simple questions of lawmakers on the Senate floor.”
The rule passed by the 2/3 majority. Because it is a rule specific to the House, it goes into effect immediately.