Around $375,000 of technology funded by state dollars is waiting to be turned on pending a vote by the Arkansas House today and tomorrow. The big question on everyone’s mind is why wouldn’t our state representatives be in favor of more government transparency?
Reports far and wide that four committee meeting rooms (130, 138, 149 and 151, according to The Tolbert Report), are wired and ready to go for live streaming. However, several state representatives have balked at the idea, arguing that streaming only certain committee meetings would be unfair to those whose rooms aren’t subject to the same technology.
Several arguments against flipping the switch have been made including the fact that streaming meetings could be used against state reps in their next campaigns. The question here is, what do they have to hide? If each representative is doing his or her job well then streaming the meetings could only be a beneficial next step allowing the public to see the governmental process with their own eyes without the media filter. Right?
Meetings are already open, which Talk Business.Net points out, however only to those who can be physically present at the meetings. Which, let’s face it, not many citizens (even the more motivated ones) are going to take the time out of their daily lives to travel to Little Rock every day to watch committee meetings.
Following the decision by Chairman of the House State Agencies Committee Rep. Clark Hall (D-Marvell) to disallow smartphone-use during committee meetings, The Tolbert Report and Talk Business.Net wrote a letter to Speaker Robert Moore asking the decision be overturned, as well as live streaming be enacted in the equipped rooms. The two publications argue that not using the tax dollars is wasteful and the citizens deserve the chance to watch their representatives at work.
Within the letter: “To ban, prohibit or not fully use these modern-day technological advancements hinders good government, makes waste of monies spent on said technologies, and undermines public confidence. It implies that only those who can sacrifice their time and travel to attend meetings will have full access to what is happening. It limits the ability for motivated citizens and professional journalists from reporting on the events transpiring at the capitol in a timely fashion. And, to stress the point, it curtails the efficient use of taxpayer dollars already spent to make House hearings available to the public.”
The House will vote today and tomorrow on the issue. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: That was quick. According to The Tolbert Report, live streaming gets the go ahead for two committees so far with only
three two reps voting against the measure.