Bill Gives Broadcasters Access to Emergency Scenes

In Olympia, lawmakers hope to make it a little easier for broadcasts to cover natural or human-made disasters. Dan Frizzell from the Washington State House Democratic Caucus has that story.

CHAPMAN: “We know radio is often the way that people will get their information in a natural disaster, maybe a fire line goes up, or a law-enforcement line.”

That’s state Representative Mike Chapman, a Port Angeles Democrat who cordoned off more than a few emergency areas himself during his previous career in law enforcement. He knows how important it is for the public to know what’s going on in a natural or human-made disaster area, and a bill he’s authored in Olympia aims to make sure broadcast journalists can get inside to tell the whole story. As he sees it, first informers need access  similar to first responders, and his bill to make that happen got a unanimous OK Monday in the state House.

CHAPMAN: “This is a public-safety piece of legislation, and it’s bipartisan, and will really help keep the public informed in emergencies.  And we live in an area of natural disasters and emergencies.  This is vitally important to the public safety.”

If Chapman’s bill clears the Senate and is signed by Governor Inslee, it’ll take effect this summer . . . just in time for wildfire season in Washington state.  Reporting from Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.