Hello, Sen. Briese and members of the executive board. My name is Heidi Uhing, and I’m the public policy director at Civic Nebraska, here to testify in support of Sen. Brewer’s LB254.
A critical component of a robust democracy is the public’s civic engagement, which is the responsibility of each individual. But government entities need to meet the public halfway by making their engagement as convenient as possible. We see this bill as providing a very important means for people to engage with their Legislature while recognizing that even those who are very interested in what happens here have busy lives that prevent them from watching live or being here in person. The fact that different groups have taken the initiative to provide this service for themselves since it was unavailable says a lot about how strong the demand for this footage really is.
I wouldn’t expect that many people would watch all of this footage gavel to gavel, plus all of the committee hearings, but the archive will enable clips of our legislative footage to be used in civic education efforts, in schools, by the media, and by advocacy organizations to educate people about particular issues and the legislative process. All of these efforts are not for profit. The fact is that what you all do here is interesting to people, and it’s an appropriate courtesy to the public to make viewing it accessible.
Nebraska was one of the first states in the country to offer live, gavel-to-gavel coverage, reflecting the unicameral’s longstanding commitment to transparency. Now we’re one of the last states to provide this video archive for your constituents, and that seems like an important omission to resolve. Most of the work is already done — the cameras are here and updated to the best quality possible, NPM has staff in the building managing the feeds, and the video is broadcast live and recorded. That’s a lot of work for nothing to show for it.
This is taking that service and that investment to its logical conclusion, making it exponentially more useful over time.
We’re especially interested in the fiscal note’s mention of the intent to archive additional years of historical footage that’s available. Adding as many years as possible to that archive would make it more immediately useful, so we’re also in support of that. And we’d encourage the search capability to reflect the categories available on NebraskaLegislature.gov’s bill search: bill number, introducer, committee, session, and keywords, in order to make the archive as useful as possible.
Thanks for considering this important proposal.