As the Delaware General Assembly continues to meet virtually, two lawmakers are introducing legislation that would require audio and video archives of Senate and House sessions and committee meetings, as well as live streaming.
Republican Representatives Bryan Shupe of Milford and Mike Smith of Pike Creek are reviving a House Concurrent Resolution that was introduced last year.
Lawmakers have been meeting virtually since last spring when the COVID-19 pandemic started. Some new protocols were established regarding the streaming and recording of meetings.
“While that promise was technically kept, the lack of accessibility has proven that lawmakers must set clear expectations moving forward if true transparency for the public is to be achieved,” Shupe said. “Furthermore, our goal as lawmakers should not be to simply film the legislative process but to use technology to encourage active involvement from Delaware residents so their voices can be heard and considered when laws that affect their daily lives are being created and voted on.”
“Access to our legislative process is vital to ensuring a free and open society,” State Senate Minority Whip Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown), said about the legislation he is sponsoring in the Senate. “If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that implementing livestream technology is possible and necessary to engage the public when they are not able to be present in person. Even after the doors to Legislative Hall open and we get back to normal, video and audio should always be made available for those who wish to stay informed.”
The sponsors want to involve the General Assembly Division of Research, State Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Technology and Information to collaborate in creating a detailed plan to implement streaming and audio – video archiving. The study would be due by next January for the following budget cycle, as well as interim protocols until a permanent system could be implemented.