TPA honors Sen. Ellis with First Amendment award
AUSTIN - Texas Press Association proclaimed Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, a “Friend of the First Amendment" at the TPA Legislative Conference on Feb. 25 in honor of his years of hard work and determination to protect and preserve free speech and government transparency.
In presenting the award, the association released the following statement:
“Sen. Ellis was elected to the Texas Senate in 1990. During his tenure, he has earned praise as a leader on economic development, education, civil rights, responsible environmental policy, tax cuts for the middle class, and criminal justice issues, having passed more than 500 bills.
“Sen. Ellis has been a champion of the First Amendment for years, assisting with passage of multiple public information bills and currently serving as the Chair of the Senate Open Government Committee. He also serves on the Senate committees for Natural Resources, State Affairs and Transportation.
“Without his tireless efforts as a three-time sponsor of the reporter’s privilege bill, whistleblowers would not have a safe haven to come forward and report government abuse and corporate malfeasance. After that arduous task, he took on a broader First Amendment issue and signed up to sponsor the anti-SLAPP legislation in the Senate. He adeptly moved it through the waters of the Senate at a time when school finance and budget issues blocked the progress of almost any bill. This session, he has completed a trifecta of First Amendment victories by sponsoring the retraction statute in the Senate.
“Sen. Ellis also is carrying a bill that codifies attorney general opinions applying the Public Information Act to electronic communications and to third-party contractors. And he is carrying a bill to close off the pending investigation loophole in the Public Information Act and to remove the unconstitutional prohibition against someone saying they’ve been served with a grand jury subpoena.
“Texas newspapers are fortunate to have a First Amendment and open government champion with the standing, experience and effectiveness of Sen. Ellis serving in the Texas Senate. The association is grateful for his steadfast support of open government and his service to Texas.”