Phoenix, Feb. 17, 2012—According to a press release sent out today by the Arizona House Democrats, House Republicans are now “arbitrarily” enforcing press restrictions, citing a little-used House Rule that allows them to remove reporters at will.
House Democrats first learned about the new enforcement Thursday afternoon when 12News reporter Melissa Blasius and a 12News photographer was kicked off the floor of the House because they didn’t have state-issued press badges. On Jan. 9, opening day of the legislature, Associated Press photographer Ross Franklin was not allowed onto the House floor and was told he needed a state-issued press badge.
Both Franklin and Blasius, as well as many other reporters and photographers have been allowed onto the floor in past years and in 2012 without state-issued press badges. Franklin was told he needed to go through a painstaking process to get the badge or else he would only be allowed in the upstairs gallery, a difficult location from which to take photos.
In order to get the badge, Franklin was told he had to:
· Obtain a form from Department of Administration, open only from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
· Return to House of Representatives on the second floor.
· Give the badge request form to House Republican PIO Rey Torres so he can send it in for approval.
· Get approved form and take it back to the Department of Administration to submit the form and get a picture/badge made.
According to House Rule 28-D, a press box on the floor “shall be maintained, to which shall be admitted only duly accredited representatives of the press holding nontransferable cards issued by the Speaker and revocable at his discretion.” But this rule was never or loosely enforced in the past. House Republicans began enforcing the rule this year without giving any mass notice to the media.
House Democrats, however, are alerting the media to the new enforcement and highly encourage all press to contact House Republican Public Information Officer Rey Torres TODAY at 602-926-3233 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details on applying for the badge and eliminate the risk of being removed from the House floor while reporting.