Sen. Tom Garrett wants to return the press to the Senate floor
Jan 18, 2016
Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Buckingham County, introduced an amendment Monday that would allow the press to again work from the state Senate floor.
“I was asked if I would not take that up for immediate consideration (Monday) and agreed to hold off on that for a day,” said Garrett, a feisty former prosecutor who defended not just the First Amendment on Monday but gave an energetic speech for gun rights on the Senate floor.
Garrett’s proposed rule change could mean good news for the public’s right to know because it puts the issue under discussion by the Senate Republican Caucus.
Reporters and lawmakers in both parties were surprised Wednesday when they learned Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment of James City County had decided to move the press off the Senate floor, where reporters had covered senators for decades, to the upper gallery. All 21 GOP senatorsvoted for the rules.
Norment refused to explain and came under criticism from journalism associations and Senate Democrats. Reporters can’t see all the proceedings or hear as well from the gallery.
In addition to Garrett, GOP Sen. Amanda Chase of Chesterfield County told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that she too wants to see reporters return to the floor.
Patrick Wilson, 804-697-1564, firstname.lastname@example.org