- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 31, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A publicity rights bill backed by legendary former Arkansas football coach Frank Broyles became the first veto of the Gov. Asa Hutchinson administration Tuesday.

Hutchinson said in a veto letter that the bill designed to protect a person’s likeness was overbroad - perhaps the broadest in the nation - could restrict free speech and could make the state a magnet for frivolous litigation.

“In its current form, the bill unnecessarily restricts free expression and thus could have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” Hutchinson said in a statement.

He added the bill would exempt certain types of noncommercial speech, such as sports and news broadcasts, while failing to exempt other forms of noncommercial speech, such as plays, books and artwork. Professional and amateur photographers urged Hutchinson to veto the bill, which the governor agreed could harm small business owners.

The proposal sailed through both chambers earlier this month with only six representatives and three senators voting against it. Proponents, such as the National Football League Players Association, said it would prevent businesses from using a person’s name or likeness to sell goods. The most vocal opponent had been the Motion Picture Association of America, which used many of the same arguments as Hutchinson.

The bill was drafted after the family of Broyles, the 90-year-old former University of Arkansas coach and athletic director, approached lawmakers last year with concerns that his likeness could be used in unapproved ways.

Broyles family attorney Meredith Lowry said the veto “is unfortunate,” but declined further comment.

The Senate voted 14-12 Tuesday against overriding the veto. The bill’s primary sponsor Sen. Jon Woods, R-Springdale, said he was insulted and disappointed in Hutchinson. He said Hutchinson wanted an unspecified amendment to which proponents wouldn’t agree.

A simple majority is needed to overturn the veto, but House sponsor Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, said an override attempt by the House is unlikely.

“I can’t believe of all the legislation we passed, this would be the bill that would bring out the veto stamp,” Leding said. “It’s a bill to protect all Arkansans.”


Associated Press writer Andrew DeMillo contributed to this report.


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