House Republicans pander on transparency: they have the power to livestream business but refuse.
by Victoria Gordon
During the 2019 legislative redistricting process there was a continuous livestream available on YouTube without any legislative maneuvering. Republicans used this court-mandated livestream to tout their commitment to transparency. Sadly, this supposed commitment disappeared as soon as the maps passed both chambers.
Republicans clearly don’t want North Carolinians to have unfiltered access to their government, because then they couldn’t continue their unchecked attacks on democracy.
North Carolinians deserve to know what lawmakers are doing. Currently the public can only access audio streams for the House and Senate floors, six committee rooms, and the press room. They shouldn’t have to rely on a private company, WRAL, to livestream important meetings. All House and Senate sessions and committee meetings can and should be livestreamed.
House Republican leaders have the tools to make this happen, but they refuse to use them, despite North Carolina being one of only four states that doesn’t offer live video webcasts of some form of their legislature.
Two bills have been introduced in the NC General Assembly in the 2019-2020 session that would give the public access to livestream video of all business conducted on the NC House floor. H218, Broadcast NC House of Reps Sessions, would mandate that video equipment be installed in the House to broadcast some floor sessions on the NC Legislature website as well as sessions of “particular public importance” on UNC-TV. H218, which was primarily sponsored by Republicans, passed the House nearly unanimously but stalled in Senate committee. Just a few weeks later, Democrats sponsored H341, the North Carolina Sunshine Act, which would live video stream all Senate and House floor sessions as well as all committee meetings. This bill, which goes several steps further than H218, remains stuck in the House Rules Committee. NC House leadership feels the need to wait for Senate approval to provide video of floor Sessions, but the redistricting hearings show they are more than capable of being accountable to the public now.