The live feed that streams audio and video from a Senate committee room must be more popular than I thought. Initially today’s meeting of the health insurance mandate review task force wasn’t streamed live on the Internet site that Capitol junkies are used to visiting to listen in on Senate committee hearings.
Sen. Cliff Branan, R-Oklahoma City, said it was his decision not to broadcast the meeting. He said he had notified people of the meeting. The folks central to the issue where there, the press was there, he didn’t see the need to stream it. And it’s his first time to command a task force.
“Virtually 100 percent of the presentation was broadcast,” Branan said. “All that people really missed were the introductions. Once there was a request to broadcast it on the Internet, we turned it on.”
It’s not a lie to say that the health care/insurance debate in Oklahoma has become political. Branan says it shouldn’t be. But Republicans have been skeptical of additional mandates for coverage and Democrats have pushed for expanded coverage. Access to health care may not be a political issue, but when either party picks a side, it becomes that way.
By looking at Twitter, it’s clear Democrats thought broadcasting the meeting was issue and raised the question as to why the meeting of a predominately Republican task force wasn’t broadcast for public scrutiny. Offering audio and video feed is optional. The House doesn’t have live streaming audio or video in its committee rooms.
It wasn’t an official committee meeting. Policy wasn’t being voted up or down. And frankly the meeting was more about educating lawmakers on health policies more than it was about creating policy. In fact, it wouldn’t be too bold to say the meeting was somewhat dry to the average citizen.
However, is there an expectation that meetings of lawmakers should be broadcast if they can be? Even if no one was listening or cared, isn’t incumbent upon elected officials to strive to make information available to constituents, especially when it’s as easy as flipping a switch?