The Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee has voted to move forward with legislation that would amend the ways in which legislative audio and video content is managed.
“We are speaking directly about the work of Idaho Public Television (IPT) with these matters,” said Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls.
Under current operational policy, IPT records the proceedings on the floor of the House of Representatives and the Senate, but only retains them for a period of a few days.
One component of the legislative proposals would seek to ensure that floor proceedings from both the Senate and the House were recorded and archived long term. The measure would also give members of the House and Senate leadership the authority to decide when recordings of the floor proceedings would be released to the public.
“This is about Idaho managing what it does with the video and audio content derived from floor proceedings, and committee hearings as well,” Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, told IdahoReporter.com after the committee hearing.
“For at least the last couple of years several of us have been saying, ‘We’ve got all this material, but what should we do with it?’ It is also true that Idaho spends a lot of money having people write and record the minutes of our committee meetings, so we’re trying to more effectively manage what we’ve got.”
Another component of the legislative proposal would authorize a legislative committee chairperson to determine whether the audio of a committee hearing is streamed live online. Noting that, historically, committee chairpersons have exercised this authority anyway, Davis explained that his proposal codifies what is already common practice. “If a committee chairperson doesn’t want a committee hearing streamed live, then they can have the audio turned off,” he told the committee.
“This would not change anything about the kind of access that the citizenry has to committee hearings,” Hagedorn told IdahoReporter.com. “There are, however, instances when cutting the online audio is appropriate. As an example, I was recently in a committee where we had to discuss some rather ugly things about child abuse. We certainly weren’t going to cut off the discussion from the public, yet at the same time we didn’t necessarily want these graphic details streaming to the whole world, either.”
The proposals from Davis were met with general favor from the committee members. However, Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, insisted on a change. “I appreciate what the senator (Davis) is trying to accomplish here,” Werk noted. “But I have real issues about a single member of leadership being able to approve or deny recordings of floor proceedings. I think we should re-write this to say that a member of both the majority and minority leadership must approve or deny.”
Davis agreed with the suggestion. “I’ve taken notes on this, and that’s an excellent suggestion,” Davis replied. “I’d still like to get this bill printed, but I do think we need to make some revisions as we move forward.”
The members of the committee voted to send the proposals forward, meaning it will be assigned a bill number for further consideration by a Senate committee. Werk was the lone “no” vote.