Blue Hog Report beat me to the punch on another of Deathstar Sen. Bart Hester's
seemingly unlimited supply of bad legislation. He writes about Hester's effort
to limit use of public records — nursing home inspections — in advertising.
Hester's bill, which squeaked through the Senate, would require in using such records::
(1) The date the survey, inspection, or investigation was conducted;
(2) A statement that a facility is required to submit a plan of correction in response to a statement of deficiencies, if applicable;
(3) If a finding or deficiency cited in the statement of deficiencies has been corrected, a statement that the finding or deficiency has been corrected and the date that the finding or deficiency was corrected; and
(4) A statement that the advertisement is not authorized or endorsed by the Office of Long-Term Care of the Division of Medical Services of the Department of Human Services, or any other government agency.
Blue Hog notes that commercial speech also enjoys First Amendment protection. There's near absolute privilege attached to reporting on public documents. If Hester can't stipulate how a newspaper reports on such a document, he can't stipulate it anywhere else.
Campbell explains in detail how he believes the constitution doesn't allow the regulation Hester proposes. Maybe some lawyer will run an ad about a god-awful nursing home's inspection without the disclaimer and go after the law if Hester or somebody like Michael Morton goes after him.
Michael Morton, by the way, plays a cameo role in Blue Hog's essay. Somehow, when you talk about attempting to prevent someone from portraying the nursing home industry in an unflatttering light, the subject of the Fort Smith nursing home baron was unavoidable.