The Latest: Effort on media access in Arizona House fails

AP News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2016 6:33 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on media access in the Arizona House of Representatives (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives have stopped a Democratic effort to change rules about journalists' access to the chamber.

It comes as the GOP House speaker allowed journalists who refused to submit to extensive background checks back on the floor. Last week, Speaker David Gowan had banned reporters who refused to comply with new security rules requiring extensive criminal and civil background checks.

Many in the Democratic caucus strongly opposed the move.

Democratic Rep. Diego Espinoza proposed a rule Tuesday severely limiting when reporters could be denied access to the House floor, but it failed on a 24-34 vote. No Republicans supported it.

Gowan said the checks were needed after several disruptions in public areas in the House and the Capitol. It forced journalists to report from the public gallery.

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2:20 p.m.

Minority Democrats are trying to change Arizona House rules on media access in response to the now-rescinded ban on reporters on the House floor.

Tuesday's action by Rep. Diego Espinoza comes on the same day that Republican Speaker David Gowan allowed reporters to return to their floor positions to watch proceedings.

Gowan said his ban on reporters was prompted by security concerns, but many in the Democratic caucus were strongly opposed. The ban was put in place last week, forcing journalists to report from the public gallery.

Espinosa's proposed rule change would severely limit when reporters could be denied access. Republicans beat back a similar effort on Monday mainly on procedural grounds.

The House can change its rules on a majority vote.

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9:27 a.m.

The speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives has allowed journalists who refused to submit to extensive background checks back on to the floor of the chamber amid pressure from lawmakers and the public over the sudden shift in decades-old policy.

The announcement Tuesday came five days after Republican House Speaker David Gowan banned reporters who refused to comply with new security rules requiring extensive criminal and civil background checks.

Journalists covered House floor sessions from the public gallery area in the meantime but lost access to lawmakers.

Gowan spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham says Gowan came up with a compromise. Reporters will now have to sign in with the chief clerk to get floor access, but their pass cards allowing free entry remain disabled.