Whitmire recognized as Champion of Transparency

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, was recognized as a "champion of transparency" Tuesday by the Texas Press Association.

The newspaper group presented the award to Whitmire in recognition of his passage of Senate Bill 308 in the 84th Texas Legislature. The bill applied the state's public information laws to campus police departments at private universities.

Donnis Baggett, executive vice president of the press association, said requiring access to private university police reports was "long overdue." He said Whitmire is one of a handful of legislators being recognized by the association for protecting the public's right to know.

Whitmire filed SB 308 after seeing news stories on allegations of excessive force by Rice University police. Reporters covering the story were denied access to offense reports on grounds that state transparency laws did not apply to a private university.

Whitmire said the bill was "the right thing to do."

Photo caption: Donnis Baggett, left, executive vice president of the Texas Press Association, presents a plaque to Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, celebrating a new law applying public information laws to campus police departments at private universities.