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Arkansas Senate works to stream video

August 28, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas senators are working to implement video streaming of the chamber and its committee meetings.

The Arkansas Senate authorized its Efficiency Committee on Monday to investigate streaming the chamber and its committees, beginning with the regular session starting Jan. 14. Senators also authorized the Rules Committee to develop procedures for the proposed webcasts, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .

The Arkansas Senate is among nine in the country that don’t provide video webcasts of their sessions in chambers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Senate only provides live audio of the meetings. The Arkansas House has been streaming floor proceedings since 2010 and committee meetings since 2011.

Republican Sen. Jim Hendren said earlier this summer that he would propose video streaming because it would help restore and protect the Senate’s integrity.

The announcement came shortly after the Senate overhauled its rules to create a committee on Senate ethics, prohibit senators from specific activities involving conflicts of interest and require more disclosure of personal financial information. Five former Arkansas lawmakers have been convicted amid federal investigations in recent years.

Video streaming would be a step toward a transparent open legislative process that could “change the culture to one where we can be proud of,” Hendren said.

Preliminary cost estimates for the webcasts range from about $70,000 up to $250,000, he said. Archiving video is projected to cost an additional $50,000 a year.

Republican Sen. Alan Clark was the lone dissenting vote.

“I support transparency, but I don’t support this,” Clark said. “I think it changes the flavor of the Senate forever.”

The Legislative Council’s Executive Subcommittee will consider the proposal Sept. 20, followed by the full council a day later.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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