UPDATE 1/25/16: Senate floor sessions are now also being recorded and archived at West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s YouTube channel.
Accessibility and transparency are the hallmarks of a strong democracy.
But, too often, regular citizens are effectively excluded from knowing what’s happening with their elected officials by limited access to information.
For most West Virginians it is impossible to spend hours sitting at the State Capitol in order to hear what important issues are being debated, and what new laws are being proposed that will have a real impact on our lives.
Which is why The Hub was thrilled to hear that, this year, our friends at West Virginia Public Broadcasting would for the first time be keeping live streams of the House of Delegates legislative floor sessions and public hearings recorded and ready to watch at its YouTube channel. You can watch Senate floor sessions as they happen at 11 a.m. each day on the Legislature’s website.
So, for those of who are interested in a debate or bill but can’t watch the session live, many full recordings will now be available to watch at a more convenient time. That’s a measurable improvement to government access and transparency, and we applaud West Virginia Public Broadcasting for doing so.
While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we think there is more that needs to be done to improve accessibility to the decision-making process in our state, particularly during the Legislative Session.
We’re sure it’s only a matter of time until the Senate floor sessions are recorded and stored on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s youtube page. We look forward to that.
But much of the critical lawmaking happens in committee meetings. A major step forward in legislative transparency and citizen engagement would occur through recording those meetings and storing them online for later access. Right now there are live audio streams of committee meetings – and nothing else. We can do better than that.
We also continue to advocate for more regular, and timely, posting of meeting agendas, and a better use of social media platforms and new technology to make it easier for more people to connect to what’s happening in the Capitol.
Stay tuned. Transparency and accessibility in our state’s political system is an issue that The Hub will continue to work on.