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An idea whose time has come

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* It’s kinda ridiculous that the General Assembly doesn’t offer archived audio and video of floor and committee action. I found this while looking for something else on the Civic Federation’s website

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), all 50 state legislatures now livestream floor proceedings, and most legislatures, including Illinois, also livestream all or selected committee hearings. Most hearings of the Illinois legislature are streamed via video, audio or both on the Illinois General Assembly website. However, Illinois is unlike other states in that the General Assembly does not make video recordings of meetings and proceedings easily available to the public online.

NCSL reports that a growing number of state legislatures are archiving and making available on-demand recordings of floor and committee proceedings online and at no charge. Unfortunately, Illinois is one of only four states that does not archive its General Assembly videos online. The process for obtaining copies of recordings is to submit a request from the Clerk of the House of Representatives or Secretary of the Senate, each of which has different procedures. For example, the House provides video recordings of floor hearings only, and audio recordings of committee hearings. The Senate does not provide any video recordings, and only provides audio recordings of floor hearings (not committee hearings). Per the State’s Legislative Materials Act, the House Clerk and Senate Secretary may establish fees for providing recordings and transcripts. Third-party platform Blueroomstream live-streams selected hearings of the Illinois General Assembly, Illinois Supreme Court and State press conferences, and some of the videos remain online after the hearings. However, a paid subscription is required. […]

While it is positive that the Illinois General Assembly livestreams proceedings, archiving video recordings online would be an even greater step towards transparency and public access to government. Illinois’ legislative hearings are usually scheduled during the workday when many residents are not able to view them live, and frequent scheduling changes can make it difficult for the general public to keep track of those proceedings.

Requiring the General Assembly to archive videos of its proceedings would entail some investment in online storage and organization. However, since many proceedings are already livestreamed and recorded, there would likely not be significant up-front costs for equipment. An analysis by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office of a 2016 ballot initiative that required, in part, the California legislature to video record and make available online within 24 hours all open legislative proceedings, estimated the initiative would require a $1-2 million upfront investment and ongoing costs of approximately $1 million to implement.

I love BlueRoomStream.com. But not everyone can afford its high-quality streams. And not everyone needs them.

More here.

       

19 Comments
  1. - Lamb - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:19 pm:

    Former Rep. Barb Wheeler had a bill to address this back in the 100th GA

    https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?GA=100&DocTypeID=HB&DocNum=4903&GAID=14&SessionID=91&LegID=110295


  2. - JoeMaddon - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:26 pm:

    Yes please.


  3. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:26 pm:

    I guess I’ve always assumed the former Speaker didn’t want floor debates to come back to haunt his caucus at campaign time. Hard to pin it all on him, and I think it’s safe to say a lot of members of the General Assembly might prefer to not hear themselves replayed over and over again on television.

    Chris Miller is probably happy that his remarks are lost for future generations to see how cavalier he was about climate change. For example.

    Given that the Tic Tok generation is coming up quickly, this seems like low-hanging fruit. This is a simple reform that will be difficult to oppose because the benefits far outweigh the costs (numbered in bruised egos).

    Also, perhaps if this is implemented, we’ll see an improvement in the quality of floor debate?


  4. - Galena Guy - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:27 pm:

    Hear hear!


  5. - Frida's Boss - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:36 pm:

    Does the Senate livestream any of its committee hearings? Pretty sure it’s only audio? May be wrong?

    Be nice to have the actual livestream open in the House and Senate once they gavel in to session for the day?
    If they’re on the floor then open the door.
    Instead they only show the face of who is speaking.
    Plus maybe train the folks who run the camera’s maybe invest in some real audio/video production as they upgrade the Senate chambers?


  6. - ChicagoBars - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:38 pm:

    Chicago City Council did this with committee meetings way back in 2019 FWIW. https://www.loopnorth.com/news/broadcast0310.htm


  7. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:39 pm:

    Yep! Blueroomstream is great, but these videos need to be open to the public and not just people who regularly follow Illinois government (the only ones who would pay for a subscription).


  8. - vern - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:47 pm:

    It’s almost more insulting that they livestream but don’t archive. We all know there’s a camera pointed at them and the videos exist. Just put them on the dang website.


  9. - Anon221 - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:48 pm:

    From the article- “Illinois’ legislative hearings are usually scheduled during the workday when many residents are not able to view them live, and frequent scheduling changes can make it difficult for the general public to keep track of those proceedings.”

    Or the deep dead of night…

    Time to get with 21st Century technology and vastly improve the transparency of government in action.


  10. - Nothing Could Be Done - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:49 pm:

    Like putting bill numbers in newspaper stories about legislation, this seems like a simple thing to do. Maybe it’s harder than I realize, but having a link to committee audio/video and floor debate under the “view all actions” tab on ilga.gov would be immensely helpful.


  11. - WLDS News - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 1:58 pm:

    Blue Room Stream is right up there with PACER on things that small newsrooms can’t afford to pay for to get access to public information. Giant crock.


  12. - Give Us Barabbas - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 2:13 pm:

    Both Chambers already have robotic cameras that automatically show whoever has their mic on and is speaking.
    It’s trivial to connect that to a streaming server and have DoIT contract for cloud storage with free read-only access. Heck, just make it a YouTube channel.


  13. - Beverly Cleary - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 2:14 pm:

    It would be great if both the ILGA feeds and BlueroomStream were closed captioned. Since the Senate moved, there’s no longer a bill number on the screen if you want to monitor but can’t turn the volume up.


  14. - New Day - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 2:24 pm:

    I love the Blueroomstream guys and I’m fortunate in that I can afford to subscribe for the few times a year I need the feed. That said, while I don’t want to hurt their business model, this is an idea long past time.


  15. - Give Us Barabbas - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 2:44 pm:

    House and Senate both are deathly afraid of continuous public video coverage for fear of the footage being used in opposition media and campaign commercials. Every legislator leaning back in their chair to close their eyes for a second, or pick a booger, or play solitaire on their laptop, will vote no.


  16. - gallifrey - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 3:05 pm:

    BEYOND time. Other states are so far ahead of the game on this it’s genuinely embarrassing for Illinois to continue to operate this way. Honestly, the lack of transparency is so blatant it verges on un-Democratic.


  17. - Near West Side - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 3:38 pm:

    ==Chris Miller is probably happy that his remarks are lost for future generations to see how cavalier he was about climate change. For example.==

    Floor debate is transcribed and available by request and eventually on LIS.


  18. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 4:23 pm:

    ===Floor debate is transcribed and available by request and eventually on LIS.===

    I am aware. Other than John Amdor, however, not many people spend a lot of time reading old floor debate transcripts.

    Imagine if we had access to Bill Black’s tirades on video. Now that would be something.


  19. - Lake villa township dem pc - Tuesday, May 30, 23 @ 6:04 pm:

    Lake county board recording committee hearings is very convenient.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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