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Published June 19 2012

North Dakota expands legislative video options for public

BISMARCK – North Dakota legislative leaders agreed Tuesday to move forward with a video project that they see as an opportunity to improve public access to the Legislature.

In previous sessions, the public has been able to go to legis.nd.gov to watch Senate and House floor sessions while they are happening.

Starting in 2013, video of floor sessions will also be recorded and placed online so the public can watch at their leisure. Cameras will also be placed in the two main committee rooms used by Senate and House Appropriations.

The public will be able to search and view a list of all recordings for a particular bill number, so they can skip ahead to watch discussion on the issue they’re interested in.

House Majority Leader Al Carlson of Fargo said the project will provide the public with greater access to what legislators are doing and increase transparency.

He said they can expand video coverage to additional committee rooms in the future.

Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor of Towner agreed they should improve public access.

“Some people can come to the session and sit and listen. A lot can’t,” he said. “This is one way to democratize the process to make sure everyone has access.”

The project will cost $110,500 in the 2011-13 biennium for the initial purchase and implementation of hardware, software and services.

Also Tuesday, legislative leaders discussed key dates for the upcoming 2013 session. The organizational session is set to begin Dec. 3. The plan is for the governor to present the executive budget and revenue proposals Dec. 5.

The governor’s State of the State address is slated for Jan. 8, followed by the State of the Judiciary on Jan. 9 and the tribal-state message on Jan. 10.

Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.

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