Journalists who cover Arizona’s House of Representatives are accusing the speaker of trying to undermine freedom of the press through a new rule limiting their access to the House floor.

The rule requires journalists seeking to enter non-public areas of the state House to first agree to background checks covering their criminal and civil histories, including driving records.

David Bodney, a local media attorney, is representing the Republic, Capitol Times and Associated Press in talks with the House over the new rule.

“There has to be a rational basis for a new policy, and then the new policy should be narrowly tailored or at least fairly tailored to address that basis,” Bodney told the Republic.

Meanwhile, reporters remain free to move around the floor of the Arizona state Senate without having to pass a background check. Some reporters who might not otherwise cover the Senate made a point of going there Thursday afternoon to highlight the contrast between the two chambers.

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