VTC Urges Subcommittees Be Transparent as Well
Richmond, VA — Leaders of Virginia’s Senate and House of Delegates have heeded the call by the Virginia Transparency Caucus to record Committee meetings of the General Assembly, just two months after the Virginia Transparency Caucus (VTC) submitted a letter signed by 85 Senators and Delegates demanding “full audio and visual recording capability, as well as transparent vote recording machines for all Committee and Subcommittee hearings rooms in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.” Both Senate Rules Committee Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover) and House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) have announced live streaming and archiving of committee meetings to be held in the Pocahontas Building during the 2018 General Assembly session.
More than 60% of the General Assembly (both a majority of Senators and a majority of Delegates) signed the letter which is being credited as having the decisive impact in finally bringing Virginia legislative decision-making into easily accessible public view. Clerks for both House and Senate are implementing technological measures to both live stream and video archive committee meetings in all the committee rooms of the renovated Pocahontas Building, where General Assembly members will maintain their offices on an interim basis while the new General Assembly Building is being constructed.
“This is an important first step, and I want to commend the House and Senate leadership for adopting these measures,” said VTC co-founder Delegate Mark Levine. “We have come a long way, but, of course, we are only halfway to our goal. Once the full transparency of Committee hearings is accepted as standard practice in Virginia, I hope and expect VTC’s complete request -- including full transparency of Subcommittee hearings -- will also soon be adopted. The majority of bills in the House of Delegates are defeated or amended at the Subcommittee level. Indeed, more are defeated or amended in Subcommittees than in Committees. And so it’s vital that Virginians have full public access to these proceedings as well. Our constituents have the right to see where most of the decision-making happens in the General Assembly, even if they can’t come all the way to Richmond on a moment’s notice.”
"I really appreciate the leadership in both the Senate and House for acknowledging and embracing this culture of more transparency that will allow constituents to more easily follow the work done in our committees,” said the other VTC co-founder Senator Amanda Chase. “This is certainly a step in the right direction and a victory for the people of Virginia.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 41 states broadcast audio or video from at least some legislative committee meetings. In 2018, Virginia is set to become the 42nd.