For those citizens who complain they can’t plow through the thousands of bills submitted in the General Assembly each year, an alternate is on the way.
For years local government meetings and even school board meetings have been live streamed. Now the Virginia Senate will follow suit. Committee meetings, where the bills making the cut each year are discussed and debated, will now be live streamed from the Senate Committee Room.
The Senate will use their transition from the old General Assembly building to fine-tune the process. They are temporally housed in the Pocahontas Building and will return to the new building in 2019 with the technology in place. For those unable to view these legislative discussions live, the videos of those meetings will be saved and made available to the public. Even better, media will have the capability to stream from the committee meetings as well.
Thanks to the Virginia Senate for creating this opportunity for constituents. Now how about the House of Delegates?
Here is the press release announcing the addition of live streaming:
RICHMOND, VA, May 11, 2017 – Senate Rules Committee Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover) today announced that live streaming of standing committee meetings held in the Senate Committee Room in the newly renovated Pocahontas Building and Senate Room 3 in the Capitol will be available during the 2018 General Assembly session.
Beginning with the 2018 session, all standing committee meetings conducted in either the Senate Committee Room or Senate Room 3 will be streamed live. Additionally, videos of meetings held in those rooms will be archived and made available for later viewing. Accommodations will also be made to allow media outlets to secure audio and clean video feeds of meetings conducted in those rooms.
“Today’s announcement will allow the public to view meetings of Senate committees live, increasing public access and legislative transparency,” noted Senator McDougle, who also serves as Senate Republican Caucus Chairman. “Utilizing the Pocahontas Building as a pilot project for live streaming will give us the ability and the experience to outfit the new General Assembly Building with the technology to ensure those interested in the legislative process will be able to view everything from their home computer or mobile device.”
“This is another step forward for legislative transparency,” said Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City). “Although the General Assembly will be in the Pocahontas Building temporarily, the Senate will actually be increasing remote access to the public and media during our transition. I greatly appreciate the efforts of Senate staff in making this advance possible.”
The Office of the Clerk of the Senate will release guidelines for video streaming this fall.
Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell sent a press release later explaining plans for live streaming for the House of Delegates:
RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell issued the following statement on transparency efforts by the Virginia House of Delegates, following the Senate announcement on its 2018 transparency pilot project.
“The House has been working toward additional live streaming capabilities without fanfare for the last several months. We fully expect House committee meetings will be live streamed, archived, and fully compatible with other public resources beginning with the 2018 session.
“The House is leading the effort to improve legislative transparency by consistently preserving press access on the House floor, prohibiting committee meetings on the House floor, publicly archiving floor sessions, posting all legislative documents online before votes are taken, requiring mandatory public review periods before budget votes, and providing meeting and agenda updates via e-mail and Twitter.”