The video of a House subcommittee hearing in which Delegate Kathy Tran’s (D-Fairfax) late-term abortion bill was revealed spread across the Commonwealth and the nation as concerned citizens were shocked by such sweeping, seemingly sinister legislation. Considering the footage was not an official video from the Virginia General Assembly, the story would have never been heard by the public unless journalists were able to document the details.
At the onset of the 2018 General Assembly session, people across the Commonwealth were able to view floor hearings from the House of Delegates and State Senate and regularly scheduled committee meetings. In a legislature that has found itself slow to move forward with growing technology, the practice has promoted a greater sense of government transparency, allowing Virginians to participate in viewing the political process that happens on Bank Street in downtown Richmond.
Nevertheless, there are still dozens of subcommittee hearings that occur throughout the maze of the Pocahontas Building that are not streamed on the Internet for all to see. After Delegate Tran’s remarks were aired, a bipartisan push for the recording and archive of subcommittees hearings has been renewed in the statehouse.
State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) and Delegate Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) are requesting the clerks of the House and Senate to broadcast all subcommittee meetings, WVTF reports.
Both the House and Senate began recording and archiving committee meetings during the 2018 session in response to a bipartisan effort from the Virginia Transparency Caucus (VTC), co-founded by the two legislators. Moreover, they led the push for the House of Delegates to begin recording subcommittee votes.
The cost of transparency for subcommittee hearings – for hardware, uploading video to the Internet, and otherwise – is estimated at about $60,000. The money to bring the project to fruition, however, has not yet been appropriated.
Though, lawmakers are optimistic that the clerks of the House and Senate will find discretionary funds to aid in promoting more government transparency in Richmond. After all, since the shameful late-term abortion comments were caught, it will be interesting to see what else may go viral.