Ohio's Statehouse Will Now Broadcast All Committee Hearings. That's A Big Deal

Jan 16, 2020

Starting on Thursday, every committee hearing at the Ohio Statehouse will be streamed live or recorded and broadcast later.

The move comes after years of work from journalists and other groups pushing for more government transparency.

Ohio Public Radio Statehouse Bureau editor Karen Kasler has covered the legislature for 16 years, and says this has been a long time coming.

“When I started covering the Statehouse in 2004, nothing was online, nothing was broadcast,” she says. “Now the cameras had actually been in the House and Senate since 1996.”

But those cameras weren’t regularly used except for session. The barrier was one of resources.

“To bring the cameras into the chambers is one thing, but then when you start to populate them through the committee hearing rooms, that’s a big deal," Kasler says. "It took people, and it took money."

Committee rooms exist throughout the Statehouse, so to equip every one with the technology to record and send video back to the headquarters of the Ohio Channel was a process that cost about $400,000.

Kasler believes the move is well worth it.

“To actually see the process, see the questions that lawmakers ask, to see the witnesses that offer testimony and the things that they bring up, I think it’s really important,” she says.

The effort began in the Ohio House, which expanded cameras into all its rooms last summer.

Kasler points out that many hearings can happen at once, so the change helps workers at the Statehouse—including journalists like her, and lobbyists—keep better tabs on what's going on.

“Many of them represent multiple clients, so it's certain that they are thrilled at the opportunity to watch hearings remotely and pull up the video of what they've missed,” she says.