The League of Women Voters strongly supports HB 897. We have supported this exciting and much-needed project for years as an important means to enhance public access at a low cost to the State. The streaming media process will allow members of the public to view and listen to hearings at times that are convenient to them. Access to archived and indexed video and audio streams will also certainly leverage the time and effort of those who wish to testify. It’s time to apply the technology that is widely used in other areas to the very important area of representative government.
Our citizens have much to learn about our legislative process and the issues currently being addressed from viewing or listening to the hearings. It allows us, the public, to gather information and gain perspectives of those who address issues. We’re able to listen to the testimonies of experts as well as the viewpoints of ordinary citizens and representatives of different industries and other interest groups.
Webcasting will make many of the hearings and floor sessions accessible to those who are not able to attend these sessions, or not able to view the telecasts of the limited number of hearings that are aired, because their schedules do not allow them the luxury. This exposure to the legislative proceedings will undoubtedly encourage more public engagement in discussions on the current issues, whether that is in their small circles of friends, or fellow workers, at parties or club events. There could be an increase in viewpoints and letters to the editor or in participation in other forums for public debate. This would be healthy for our democracy. We need an engaged public discussing issues, and for that, they need good information. Webcasting legislative proceedings is one way of providing the public the information as well as differing opinions on the issues.
We urge you to pass HB 897 and to fund this project. Thank you.