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I testify Monday before a Texas House of Representatives committee considering the proposed Free Flow of Information Act.

I posted previously about why Texas needs to join the 36 other states and the District of Columbia that have a shield law for journalists. Journalists are considered the Fourth Estate because they serve as watchdogs over government.

I plan to speak from personal experience at the Advocate about the thousands of dollars the company has had to spend defending its journalists from subpoenas. This legal weapon also has had a chilling effect on our ability to dig into who knew what and when regarding former Sheriff Michael Ratcliff's case. Sources are less likely to come forward to speak about abuse of power when they know a reporter could be legally compelled to divulge their identity.

To emphasize a point, reporters would still need to testify if they were eyewitnesses to a crime. The key points of the law are listed on my previous post. You also may read more at a special Web site set up by Texas newspapers.

I plan to use Twitter to report on the committee hearing, which is scheduled to begin sometime after 1 p.m. Monday. You may follow my updates at the top of this blog or by going directly to my Twitter feed.

As I get ready to hit the road, I want to give a special mention to state Rep. Todd Hunter, chairman of the House committee. He scheduled this bill for an early hearing to be sure it had a chance to move through the Legislature. Hunter's district includes Calhoun County.

I haven't tried this before, but it also appears the committee hearing will be streamed live on the Texas legislature's Web site. Click on the link for the Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence.  Let me know how it works for you.