State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones was asked to stop webcasting live from the House Taxation and Revenue Committee this afternoon, but no one forced her to turn off her camera, and she rejected the request.
As a result, Arnold-Jones successfully webcast today the first of several House committee meetings she plans to broadcast live over the Internet each week during the 60-day legislative session that’s underway.
It was committee Chairman Edward Sandoval, R-Albuquerque, who twice made the request to Arnold-Jones at the start of this afternoon’s meeting to turn off her camera. He did so in the context of informing Arnold-Jones of House rules that might be pertinent to her rogue attempt to bring greater transparency to the House, but Sandoval said he isn’t opposed to greater transparency.
“This is probably something that is the future of legislatures and government as technology progresses. However, this is something new to us,” Sandoval said. “… I think when we’re looking at transparency, and that’s all well and good and we’re going to get there. … That’s what we want, but we also want to do it in an organized matter so there aren’t any disruptions.”
Sandoval also announced at the meeting that the House Rules and Order of Business Committee will consider a resolution on Tuesday morning that would give committee chairs the discretion decide whether to allow Arnold-Jones and any other House members to webcast their committee meetings. Webcasting is something that House and Senate leaders have rejected for years.
After Sandoval finished speaking during today’s meeting, Arnold-Jones was also briefly addressed by Speaker Ben Lujan, who is a member of the committee. He told Arnold-Jones that it was “unfortunate” and “a little surprising that you didn’t even have the courtesy” to inform Lujan and Sandoval before the meeting that she was going to webcast it. Arnold-Jones did little to promote the webcast other than announcing it on her own Web site, but the media picked up the news and spread it far and wide.
Lots of interest
The committee meeting was attended by a number of representatives of the media, including staffers from two television stations with cameras in hand. As many as 48 people were watching on the Internet at any given time, according to Arnold-Jones’ webcast.
The camera sat in front of Arnold-Jones on the table at which the members of the committee were seated. The members’ comments were a little difficult to hear because of background noise. But for those who were unable to attend the meeting in person, the webcast represented a new level of accessibility to the business of the Legislature.
Arnold-Jones, who set up the webcasting system for a few hundred dollars, plans to webcast from the meetings of three committees: tax and revenue, voters and elections and one of two capital outlay subcommittees. Tax and revenue is scheduled to meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1:30 p.m. Voters and elections is scheduled to meet Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. The capital outlay subcommittee is scheduled to meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:30 a.m.
Other webcasting news
Meanwhile, the Senate, whose leaders recently took down cameras installed for the purpose of webcasting from the Senate floor, voted 30-10 today to reconsider that decision and begin webcasting, according to The Santa Fe New Mexican’s Steve Terrell.
Senate leaders from both parties — most of them openly opposed to webcasting — used the current budget crunch as the reason (or an excuse, such as it may be) to expend more resources to uninstall the cameras they had already purchased and had installed. According to Terrell’s blog, though the majority of senators want webcasting, there’s still a lot of consternation among members of the committee’s committee, which will make the final decision, about doing it.
Committee member Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, was quoted by Terrell as saying that some senators are worried about saying “the wrong thing.”
“Once that’s done, you’re on YouTube and there’s nothing you can do,” Cisneros said.
Meanwhile, KUNM-FM in Albuquerque plans to begin webcasting audio, primarily from the Senate floor, beginning on Tuesday.