Gov. Abbott signs legislation providing press freedom to report wrongdoing allegations

AUSTIN – Gov. Greg Abbott has signed Senate Bill 627, making it clear that journalists can report on allegations of wrongdoing and receive protections under state law.

Abbott signed the bill late Thursday night. The legislation was authored by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and sponsored by Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi. The measure codifies a defense for accurately reporting on third-party allegations. That defense had been part of common law in Texas for 25 years, but a recent Texas Supreme Court ruling called it into question.

Many times the news media is the first to uncover problems that are subsequently investigated and for which legislative reform is initiated. The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, the Texas Press Association at the Texas Association of Broadcasters pushed for the legislation.