Will webcasting of committee meeting be allowed?

Posted 2/12/2009 01:09:00 PM

The New Mexico Independent is going to attempt to webcast Friday’s ethics reform hearing being held by the Senate Rules Committee. The big question is whether the powers-that-be will allow it to happen.

The online news publication (I’m a contract reporter for it, by the way) published a blog posting this morning stating its intention to webcast the meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on Friday. The Independent also plans to liveblog the meeting on its Web site and invites anyone to participate in that online forum.

“Our goal is to provide increased public access to the meeting and encourage a lively discussion on the subject of ethics reform,” the posting by Gwyneth Doland states.

Earlier in the session, the Independent webcast audio and video of the House subcommittee meeting on webcasting. While webcasting of audio and, in some cases, video has become almost commonplace this session, and the House has approved official audio webcasts, the Independent will be the first to attempt to webcast a Senate committee meeting.

As I reported earlier today, the committee is scheduled to hear a host of ethics reform bills, and the room should be packed with reform advocates and the media. It would certainly be noteworthy if the webcasting was shut down in front of a room of journalists and people interested in increased government accountability and transparency.

But the committee is stacked with influential senators who aren’t the friendliest to the idea of webcasting. Though equipment was purchased and installed last year for the purpose of webcasting audio and video from the Senate floor, the Senate Committee’s Committee killed that plan late last year and had the cameras taken down. Earlier this year, on a vote of 30-10, the Senate voted to force that committee to reconsider its decision -- a vote that, thus far, has had no impact.

Among the 10 who voted against that measure are four of eight members of the rules committee -- its chair, Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque; Senate President Tim Jennings, D-Roswell; Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen; and Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales. The last three are also members of the committee’s committee.

Friday morning’s rules committee meeting is going to be interesting…

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