Bill would post Nebraska Legislature videos online

Bill would post Nebraska Legislature videos online

Senators serving on the Unicameral’s Executive Board of the Legislative Council recently met for a public hearing on Sen. Tom Brewer’s LB777, a bill that would require the creation of an online video archive of their proceedings in time for the 2023 session.

The Executive Board is a special legislative committee that deals with the Legislature’s internal affairs. LB777 came to their committee because the Office of the Clerk of the Legislature already has its own archive for videos of committee hearings and floor debate, produced on its behalf by Nebraska Public Media.

Despite the great work Nebraska Public Media does in providing this content, these videos have not been made freely available to the public so that Nebraskans can research legislative activity afterward.

That means unless you have the opportunity to watch a legislative hearing or debate live, you might not be able to find out what happened in a timely manner. This is clearly a problem for busy Nebraskans who want more information about bills that impact their lives and livelihoods, but don’t have the time to watch the State Capitol on a daily basis.

But frankly, it’s even a problem for those of us who do watch the Legislature as part of our work. Sometimes multiple bills I care about are heard at the same time, and I would like to know what Nebraskans and policymakers think about those bills even if I can’t watch live. Believe it or not, I sometimes even have work or life commitments that keep me from watching legislative debate.

We would also like to share more of this information with Nebraskans so they can be better informed about the issues that matter to them.

Of course, plenty of people make their own recordings of legislative hearings and debate through video capture software or social media. But anyone who’s attempted this knows technology can thwart the best laid plans.

I testified in support of LB777 on behalf of the Platte Institute and had one of my fellow teammates try to make an online recording while they were working from home, so you could see some of the drawbacks for yourself.

In this case, we were able to capture most of the roughly one-hour hearing, but the YouTube video also includes some gaps where the internet connection caused the video quality to decline and require a refresh.

This is all the more reason the Legislature should make its impressive video library available to Nebraskans. One way we know this isn’t an unreasonable request is that 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam already provide this resource, usually through their legislative website or YouTube.

I was encouraged by the hearing that LB777 faced no opposition testimony and received many great supporting arguments from Sen. Brewer and the bill’s supporters. I hope you’ll check out the video and contact your senator in support of putting legislative videos online through our Take Action page in the link below.

Update: Unfortunately, senators punted on LB777 in 2022, but the fight for government transparency isn’t over! Sign the petition to demand the Unicameral post its meeting videos online for all to see. 

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