Texas State Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) filed a bill on Tuesday to restrict the filming of police officers. The bill, HB 2918, would criminalize the filming, photographing, and recording of law enforcement officials within 25 feet of officers performing their duties. The distance would be expanded to 100 feet if the person doing the recording was carrying a concealed handgun.
This proposed bill appears to fly in the face of Federal court rulings last year that allowed police to be filmed and recorded while doing their work.. In the most recent court decision, the Federal 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a New Hampshire woman had the right to videotape the police officer under the First Amendment.
The bill grants an exception to the “news media.” Disturbingly, the bill defines the news media as the following:
(2) “News media” means:
(A) a radio or television station that holds a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission;
(B) a newspaper that is qualified under Section2051.044, Government Code, to publish legal notices or is a free newspaper of general circulation and that is published at least once a week and available and of interest to the general public in connection with the dissemination of news or public affairs; or
(C) a magazine that appears at a regular interval, that contains stories, articles, and essays by various writers, and that is available and of interest to the general public in connection with the dissemination of news or public affairs.