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Bill to require video archive of legislative hearings and floor debate advances

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Posted at 1:32 PM, Mar 10, 2022

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — The Nebraska Legislature would maintain a video archive of legislative debate and hearings under a bill advanced Thursday to debate.

Legislative Bill 777 is portrayed as increasing transparency and keeping up with at least 46 other states that already keep a library of legislative proceedings.

Supporters, including State Sens. Julie Slama of Sterling and Suzanne Geist of Lincoln, said that many entities already record proceedings of the Legislature and that it just makes sense to make it more easily accessible by the public.

Under an amendment to LB 777, the recordings “shall not be used for political or commercial purposes” and are intended for “educational and informational purposes.”

‘Gotcha’

But Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop questioned whether the recordings would be used anyway for political purposes, to “gotcha” a senator. Some interest groups claim that they are “educational” in nature, and the senator said the bill may allow them to use a video to urge people to call out senators about a particular vote.

“Is that political?” Lathrop asked.

During discussion of the bill by the Legislature’s Executive Board, it was pointed out that a “watermark” could be placed on the video stating that the video could not be used politically.

Speaker priority bill

LB 777 advanced from the committee on a 6-1 vote. Lathrop was the lone “no” vote, and two senators — Patty Pansing Brooks and Tony Vargas — were present and not voting. The bill was introduced by Gordon Sen. Tom Brewer and was declared a speaker priority bill.

The Platte Institute, an Omaha-based think tank, is among the groups advocating for the bill as a way to keep the public more informed.

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: info@nebraskaexaminer.com. Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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