After the Arkansas Senate passed SB-79, the “Personal Rights Protection Act,” mandating that photographers obtain written consent from a stranger to capture their likeness in a photograph for most purposes, Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed the bill yesterday.
“I have done so because in its current form it is overbroad, vague and will have the effect of restricting free speech,” Governor Hutchinson said in a statement.
“I believe the absence of a clear exemption for … expressive works will result in unnecessary litigation in Arkansas courts and will suppress Arkansans who engage in artistic expression from photography to art work.”
The Arkansas bill was one of many in a recent outbreak of state legislation across the country intended to limit the First Amendment rights of the people. The outcry over video of police brutality in Ferguson and around the U.S. has inspired some legislators not to reform police, but to punish the people gathering the evidence.
Thankfully, Governor Hutchinson relented to the pressure of the of photography supporters, including the National Press Photographers Association.
“Thanks to all who sent letters,” tweeted Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, after Governor Hutchinson remarked that the many photographers who wrote in to voice their complaints influenced the decision. “An override may be attempted but this is a win.”
The Governor’s veto can be overridden by a majority of both houses of the Arkansas Congress, but pundits have speculated that the legislators will not try to push the bill through given the public outcry.