COLUMBUS - Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Assistant Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) introduced a bill to significantly improve transparency in the Ohio General Assembly, using technology that is already in place. Senate Bill 338 would require the recording, live broadcast, and video archiving of all committee hearings through Ohio Government Television (OGT). 

All Statehouse committee rooms are wired for this service, but only the Senate and House Finance Committees are currently televised.

“We have an easy opportunity to create a more open government. The technology is already in place. There’s no reason not to do it,” said Senator Schiavoni. “Ohioans deserve to know about legislation that will affect their daily lives. SB 338 would let people all over the state participate in the process, even if they can’t attend in person.”

The Center for Public Integrity gave Ohio an overall “D+” in their 2015 State Integrity Investigation. They gave the state a “D-“ in Legislative Accountability and an “F” in “Public Access to Information.”

OGT has confirmed that all committee rooms in the Statehouse could be made ready to broadcast in 30 minutes. The Statehouse and committee rooms have been wired for video and audio coverage for nearly 20 years, as part of Statehouse renovations completed in 1996. They are ready to be used right now – needing only approval from the legislature.

”We have a responsibility to be transparent in the work we are doing on behalf of our constituents. This is an easy, cost effective, and convenient way to open up our committee deliberations and votes, which allows the people to participate in the legislative process,” stated Senator Tavares. “Let the light shine on the work we are doing for Ohioans. Give them an opportunity to see and hear how we address issues that matter to them.”

OGT staff reports that they currently have the capacity to cover four simultaneous committee hearings. Funding for the purchase of 36 cameras and a remote package was already allocated by the 127th General Assembly. 

This measure is companion legislation to House Bill 536, which was introduced with bi-partisan co-sponsors in the Ohio House by Representative Teresa Fedor.

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