The California Assembly is taking on the paparazzi, reports the Los Angeles Times. Photographers who drive recklessly in pursuit of celebrity photos or block sidewalks creating a sense of “false imprisonment” will face stiff new penalties, including possible jail time, under a measure that gained final approval in the Assembly on Tuesday. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D- Los Angeles) wrote the bill after hearing tales of paparazzi encounters from actresses Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, among others, and about high-speed car chases through Hollywood as multiple photographers would compete for a celebrity photo. With passage, the bill awaits the governor’s signature.
Opponents of the bill, including the California Newspaper Publishers Assn., described the measure as an affront to the 1st Amendment, noting that there are already legal penalties for reckless driving. The news association suffered another defeat with final passage of a measure that seals the autopsy reports of slain children. State Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta), who wrote the bill, said it came in response to a flood of public records requests following the rape and murder of San Diego-area teenagers Chelsea King and Amber Dubois.