Putting The Government On Television
During recent weeks, State Representatives have been required to meet several deadlines regarding submission of new legislation. This is a time of opportunity for us to advocate for legislative efforts important to our constituents.
One issue I campaigned for and about which I feel strongly, is requiring state government to televise its proceedings so people can see what is really going on. I have observed that without televised proceedings, it is more difficult for citizens to view legislative events in their proper context. The number of procedural votes and other complicating issues create a cloud of confusion that sometimes allow politicians to take public positions on controversial issues that they in actuality are voting to sabotage.
If proceedings were televised, people would be able to see not only how their elected Representatives voted, but they would have full access to the debate and procedural votes as well. That way, a Representative would have to answer to a more informed electorate when he returned home.
Televising government proceedings has always been an issue I advocated. Nine years ago I decided to become more informed and involved in civic affairs. Following that desire, I attended a number of City Council meetings in both Guthrie and Edmond. The thing I noticed about the Guthrie meetings was that rarely were members of the public in attendance. I concluded that with all the demands faced by Oklahoma's working families, it is difficult for people to set aside time to keep track of government. And,...a government not monitored by the people will certainly face an increased risk of failing to be responsible to the people. I am strongly convinced that when government is televised, just one elected official brave enough to ask tough questions can hold the government responsible, and the people can see what is really transpiring.
In 2001, I campaigned for the Guthrie City Council on a platform of televising Council proceedings. The other City Council members supported this proposal and because of the fantastic dedication of city staff, the Guthrie government channel telecast is now one of the best in the state. If you have not viewed these proceedings, I would suggest you visit cityofguthrie.com and click on the "current city council meeting" link on the front page. This fall, the Guthrie television cameras were rolling as House Speaker Lance Cargill visited Guthrie as part of a town hall meeting. Cargill's visit demonstrated the exciting possibilities of televised government and was an important step in securing the support of House leadership for the proposal to televise state government.
With the assistance of the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) we have refined what I believe is a strong proposal. If enacted, it will broadcast both House and Senate proceedings. If the proposal passes this spring, broadcasting would likely begin with the next legislative session.
It is an honor to work at providing better access to government. Hopefully, the effort will meet with success this legislative session.