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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

SB 1084 SD1 (SSCR 43)

Relating to
Legislative Proceedings on the Internet

House Committee on Legislative Management (LMG) - chair: Magaoay, vice chair: Tokioka

Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 2:05 p.m. Room 423

Testifier: JoAnn Maruoka, Legislative Committee member, LWV-Hawaii

Click here to view SB1084 SD1

The League of Women Voters strongly supports SB 1084 SD1. 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 or webcasting process will allow members of the public to view and listen to hearings at times that are convenient to them, whether from home or wherever computers are available, such as public libraries, schools, youth centers, and other public places. Access to archived and indexed video and audio streams will help better inform our citizens, and it will certainly also leverage the time and effort of those who wish to testify.

Our citizens can learn a great deal 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 the 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. It’s an effective way to protect the citizen's right to know and facilitate citizen participation in government decision making.

Many other state legislatures’ sessions are already accessible on the internet. These include Arizona, Washington, Nevada, Indiana, and Connecticut, whose Connecticut Network slogan is “Your State, Your Government, Your Network.” North Dakota’s live video of their House and Senate sessions started in 2007. Oregon’s video and audio streaming also debuted during the 2007 session and their state legislature website refers to it as “Gavel-to-Gavel” coverage. We believe that clearly, it’s time for Hawaii to apply the technology to the very important area of representative government.

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 an effective way of providing the public the information, as well as differing opinions on the issues.

We urge passage and funding of SB 1084 SD1. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.


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