Ohio state rep. fights for government transparency
March 3, 2011 · Print This Article
COLUMBUS – State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) demanded that the Ohio Senate use the existing infrastructure of Ohio Government Television (OGT) to audio and video record the controversial Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) committee hearing. This would also allow for the committee to be streamed live via the OGT website.
“On this, the 208th anniversary of Ohio statehood, leadership refuses to utilize available technology so that tax-paying citizens can access Senate hearings,” said Rep. Fedor. “Wiring for all the rooms in the Statehouse was completed as part of the $3 million renovation in 1996. Each room is equipped to record audio online and cameras could be rolled in or ideally, mounted on the walls if used permanently. Having this type of access would allow for the whole context of the hearing to be heard, rather than just a 30-second sound byte.”
Yesterday Rep. Fedor and others filed a lawsuit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to address the decision by the Capital Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) and the Department of Public Safety to lock citizens out of the Statehouse during Senate Bill 5 hearings last week. Due to the threat of the lawsuit, interested parties from the office of the Ohio Attorney General, CSRAB and Public Safety met with Rep. Fedor and other plaintiffs to discuss access plans for today’s rally. Part of those discussions involved audio/ video recording and live streaming of the committee hearing. Today prior to the start of committee, Rep. Fedor was notified that the Senate would not provide that service.
“I have been assured that the technology and infrastructure exists and is ready to be utilized,” said Rep. Fedor. “There is absolutely no reason to continue practices that keep Ohioans from being able to be fully engaged in their state government. Further, a recent decision to provide video in committee hearings was made during the confirmation hearings of former Governor Ted Strickland’s Director of the Department of Public Safety. As this bill moves forward the people of Ohio deserve to have public access and transparency into the legislative process.”
Today the Ohio Senate continued hearings on SB 5, the controversial anti-working family bill. The hearing once again brought thousands of people to the Statehouse in protest. Citizens rallied on the Statehouse lawn and inside parts of the building.