Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rep. Steve Dyer (D-Green) Proposes Sunshine in Statehouse Committee Hearings

As reported in OPENERS, Rep. Steve Dyer has proposed a bill that would require the General Assembly to prepare and file a record of each committee hearing. On the Federal level, every committee hearing has been transcribed, pretty much forever. On the state level, there is nothing of the sort. The Committee reports record only who testified and vote outcomes, if any.

I spoke to Rep. Dyer at the AdNEO roll-out and he mentioned the bill to me. He's pretty proud of the idea and rightly so. Unfortunately, as OPENERS notes, it's the sort of bill that journalists, but most legislators would just as soon not even talk about. Attorneys also wouldn't mind it, as it would provide some legislative history when trying to argue what the GA intended by a particular bit of statutory language. Activists would like it because it illuminates the process more and provides information about what information was presented to a committee that may have persuaded it to vote one way or another.

And needless to say, bloggers would like it. I asked Rep. Dyer if he envisioned an online searchable database and he said absolutely.

At the end of last year the netroots started to band together to generate interest in a bill Jennifer Garrison (D-Marietta) had proposed to compel the legislature to create a searchable database for floor votes. The end of the session ended the effort, but it would be great if we could revive it to support this.

BTW, the bill isn't up yet online. I'll update when it is.