By Steve Terrell
The santa fe New Mexican
Although state Senate leaders voted last month to not webcast Senate floor sessions — and to take down expensive Web cameras that already had been purchased and installed — some live streaming of legislative proceedings could be on the Internet next week.
Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, R-Albuquerque, said Thursday she purchased a Web camera for about $180 and intends to start on Monday streaming live from meetings of House committees on which she serves.
In another webcasting development, Jim Williams, news director of KUNM 89.9 FM, said his station’s Web site will begin webcasting audio from the Senate floor starting Tuesday. Williams said he has not sought permission, saying the Legislature’s proceedings are public.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, who opposes the video webcasting, said Thursday he has no problem with KUNM’s planned audio webcast.
Meanwhile, Mark Boitano, R-Albuquerque, said Thursday he talked with senators from both parties about forcing a vote on reinstalling the cameras and beginning webcasts of Senate floor sessions. The state spent about $30,000 last year on video equipment and installed cameras in the Senate Chambers. But last month, the Senate’s Committees Committee voted not to contract with a service to provide the webcasting, citing the state budget crunch. The cameras came down a few days before the session started.
But Boitano noted it could be an uphill battle because leaders of both parties in the Senate are opposed to webcasting. This week, Boitano said, the Senate Finance Committee voted down a move by Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, to add $7,000 to the Feed Bill (House Bill 1) for the purpose of webcasting.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New Mexico is one of only five states that does not have some type of webcasting. (Some states only stream audio without video.) But two of the five, Hawaii and Rhode Island, broadcast floor sessions and some committee meetings on television.
The state Republican Party on Thursday came out strongly in favor of the webcasts.
“Thanks to decades of Democrat Party dominance and the Richardson-Denish administration’s failure to address corruption, New Mexico is seen as a back-room-deal kind of state,” state GOP Chairman Harvey Yates said in a news release. “Refusing to broadcast the legislature only makes it worse.”
... We can get on the computer and watch the snow fall in Germany but we can’t watch our elected officials in action in Santa Fe.”
Contact Steve Terrell at 986-3037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.