ULTRA LATE UPDATE: When you have a legislative session that only lasts 60 days, bills move quickly. All three bills below have passed! This shows how quickly transparency is becoming the norm and not the exception – but this is only due to the hard work of the larger community. Keep up the pressure!
The House passed all three measures Friday morning in a flurry of activity that belied the halting, sometimes heated, campaign it has taken to get the House to this point. Gone were the passionate arguments against video webcasting. Only one ‘nay’ resounded through the House chamber Friday morning on the three separate votes take on the measures, and that came on the measure to post lawmakers’ votes online.
LATE UPDATE: It was a fast and furious committee session in New Mexico today. The House Rules committee made do-pass recommendations on three bills that have serious transparency implications. The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government has the rundown:
HR1, HR2 and HR3, which would provide live audio and video streaming of the House floor, live audio or video streaming of House committees, and next-day online posting of House votes, respectively.
These bills address several issues that affect transparency. HR3 is of particular interest to me – currently, if you want a record of how your legislator voted in New Mexico you need to obtain it as a paper document – in person!
In a modern legislature where thousands of votes can be taken each session, this is unacceptable. We’re analyzing HR3 right now to see what all the implications of passage would be.
Online voting records shouldn’t stop there. In 2007, the Open House Project recommended that committees should also archive and publish their votes online:
Rather than leaving public access and the historic record to the variable discretion of the committee chairs, the House should require that all committees publish their proceedings online shortly after they occur.
One major shortcoming already of HR3 is that it would only compel the House to publish their votes 24 hours after they were taken. There’s no technical reason voting records couldn’t be published in real-time.
In Minnesota, where I spent most of my political life matriculating, there’s a video feed for almost every part of the State legislature. House floor, Senator floor, the key committees – pretty much everything. When committees didn’t have a live feed, the press and citizen journalists fought (and won) for the right to broadcast what goes on in state government.
The New Mexico Independent, an online news site, has been doing yeoman’s work in extending that webcasting (using their own resources) to key committees. Even when live video is not available, they’re live blogging the proceedings in real time.
This kind of access to our government doesn’t have a price tag. We’re joining them on the liveblog to help ensure public access to government proceedings and to help provide analysis and research on the goings on of the New Mexico legislature.
Join us using the live blog below!