TESTIMONY TO THE HOUSE RULES AND EXECUTIVE NOMINATIONS COMMITTEE
HB 177 General Assembly - Live and Archived Video Streaming of Meetings
BY: Susan Cochran, President
DATE: February 24, 2014
The mission of the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, is to encourage informed and active participation in government, to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. We have always promoted an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive.
We support this legislation because it increases the public’s ability to observe and understand the decision-making processes of the committees of the General Assembly. We were pleased to see that the Senate made a rule change that allowed committees to choose to stream voting sessions. Although this was a step in the right direction, by making the streaming of voting sessions optional, this rule change did not go far enough. Nonetheless, the League of Women Voters joined with Common Cause and the ACLU to encourage committee chairs to take advantage of this opportunity to increase transparency and enhance the public’s right to know the reasoning behind the decisions of their elected leaders.
This bill goes farther by requiring the House of Delegates and the State Senate to make available to the public live and archived video streaming of all of their meetings, including standing committee hearings and voting sessions. This is a significant step forward for transparency and citizen participation in the legislative process. The voting process is perhaps the least accessible part of a bill’s progress through the legislature. We realize that this comes with a substantial fiscal note. While video coverage is extremely helpful for knowing who is speaking, if you support this effort, but are concerned by the fiscal note, as a first step you could at least require live and archived audio streaming of all meetings including hearings and voting sessions.
We applaud Delegate Hough and the 24 co-sponsors for putting forth this legislation and urge a favorable report.