Legislative Activity Across the Country

Our state leaders are actively working to build awareness of the urgent need for media literacy education among policymakers. Use the links to the right to learn the status of media literacy education in your state!

To discuss leadership opportunities in your state, contact Erin McNeill, president, at 617-744-9563 or emcneill@medialiteracynow.org or use the contact form.

Congress passed 352 bills and resolutions in its last session — states passed 45,000.
CQ Roll Call.

Putting Media Literacy On The Public Policy Agenda

Many bills pending around the country are the product of direct efforts by state-level MLN advocates, some are the result of years of policymaker education, and others have resulted from lawmakers, who care about the issues, coming to us seeking help with specific legislative language.

Many states have introduced our model bill that establishes an Advisory Council within their Department of Education to find solutions for ensuring comprehensive media literacy education K through 12.

Update Dec. 27, 2019:

wrapped language from bills HB3018 and SB885, requiring the incorporation of instruction in digital citizenship into the curriculum, into an omnibus bill that has been enacted.

New Mexico committed funding for FY20 for a media literacy program to include professional development. Although the governor did not sign the resulting bi-partisan supported bill, MLN’s NM chapter leader Pamela Pereyra’s efforts paid off in that the budget included teacher training funding. Future plans are to reinstate the bill for a comprehensive media literacy plan in the 2020 legislative session.

In Colorado, a bill creating a media literacy advisory committee within the Department of Education passed; 2020’s next session is the timeline target to implement recommendations made by the advisory committee.

In Virginia, a bill establishing a Digital Citizenship, Internet Safety, and Media Literacy Advisory Council was implemented by the Department of Education despite passing a subcommittee only.

And in Washington, state funding for professional development was included in the budget.

Pending action:

Several bills are currently pending in the state legislature’s Joint Education committee, including legislation related to technological privacy and safety in schools (SB295), an act related to safe internet access in schools (SB323), legislation supporting media literacy education in public schools (HB561), and a media literacy act (SB259).

Twin bills establishing a commission to study journalism in underserved communities, are pending in the Joint Community Development and Small Business committee.

The Joint Public Health committee is considering legislation designed to ‘protect youth from the health risks of sugary drinks.’ (HB1947 and SB1291).

And a bill regarding the transmission of indecent visual depictions by teens (HB1550), is pending in the Joint Judiciary committee.

A bill creating the Illinois Media Literacy Task Force, similar to the Advisory Council bill, has been re-referred to the Rules committee (HJR0009).

A bill amending the school code has passed the House and is pending in the Senate Assignments committee. It would allow high schools to include instruction in media literacy and for the superintendent of education to make instructional materials available to guide development of that instruction. (HB1559).

New York
New York has introduced a bill which would require the Department of Education to provide school districts with resources and instructional materials about media literacy (AB2219); it has been referred to the Assembly Education committee.

A bill, referred to the Senate Education committee, would require a minimum level of instruction in civics, civility and citizenship – including media literacy (SB1104).

And an act to create an advisory council to study the teaching of media literacy is pending in the Assembly Education committee (AB106).

Legislative session completed, these bills advanced but did not pass:

Senate Resolution 33 would create a task force to identify the problems of a lack of media literacy among youth, and identify best practices for media literacy education. (Similar to Media Literacy Now’s Advisory Council bill.) 

House Bill 247 would create a library media specialist grant program. 

New Jersey
Assembly Bill 132 would require schools to incorporate instruction in “information literacy” (including digital, visual, media, textual, and technological literacy) in grades K-12.

In the legislative session ending December 2018, we supported passage of three bills related to media literacy. Massachusetts passed a bill mandating civics instruction that requires media literacy be a component. Massachusetts also passed a bill requiring financial literacy instruction in schools that also requires evaluating media content. California passed a bill to provide a website of resources, tools and professional development information for educators.

In the legislative session ending December 2017, we supported passage of five bills related to media literacy. Connecticut and Rhode Island passed new media literacy legislation that establishes an advisory council to identify best practices and make recommendations to the Department of Education. Implementation is underway. New Mexico has passed Memorial 49 in the House, and, during the interim session,  identified best practices. Washington passed its new bill implementing the Department of Education’s recommendations  as a result of 2016’s successful law. California passed a media arts bill with media literacy as a goal.

In 2016, the governor of Washington signed into law a bill spearheaded by Media Literacy Now and our partner, Action for Media Education, that establishes a support structure to enable state educators to implement media literacy and digital citizenship education in every school.

In 2015, Connecticut approved a law that requires health and safety curricula include an opportunity for students to undergo training in the safe use of social media. The legislation also states that public school students will receive instruction in computer programming. The legislation was introduced through the advocacy of Welcome 2 Reality with the support of Media Literacy Now.

In 2015, Utah passed a law that implements digital citizenship education in schools, with the support of Media Literacy Now.

In 2014, New Jersey enacted a law requiring schools to teach safe and ethical use of social media in grades 6 through 8.

Florida and Ohio require that media literacy skills be integrated into the curriculum.

Illinois requires school districts to incorporate internet safety lessons. The lessons are to be given every year starting in grade 3, and include topics such as safe and responsible use of social networking websites, chat rooms, electronic mail, bulletin boards, instant messaging, and other means of communication on the Internet.

New Mexico educational statutes recommend a media literacy elective in middle or high school.

Washington passed a law that identifies digital citizenship as a school librarian role.

Minnesota recently added specific media literacy standards for K through 12 to their Common Core standards.

California included a media literacy element in an anti-sex-trafficking education law.

The Media Literacy Now legislative monitoring initiative is made possible by Jan Garbett, founder of Epik.

Start Your State Chapter!