Groups on the political left and the political right voiced approval of the Ohio House’s announcement that the last four committee rooms in the chamber have been equipped with cameras to allow the live streaming of meetings.
Equipping the rooms with cameras was a bipartisan effort from House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, and Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, to improve transparency. Before this year, only one hearing room was equipped with a camera; now all nine are equipped.
"Compared to where government often spends taxpayer dollars, this is a good investment,” Greg Lawson, a research fellow at The Buckeye Institute, told The Center Square via email. The institute is a free-market think tank based in Ohio.
“Government transparency is important for a well-informed citizenry,” Lawson said. “Now, thanks to the efforts of Speaker Householder and House Minority Leader Sykes, Ohioans will be able to watch their elected representatives in action."
Wendy Patton, the senior project director at Policy Matters Ohio, also said that the cameras are a good step in the right direction. Policy Matters Ohio is a progressive think tank.
“On-air coverage of legislative committee hearings allows any Ohioan with broadband access and a computer or smart phone to view the workings of state government and the discussions of elected leaders on matters of importance to the state,” Patton said. “This provides good transparency and allows more to participate in, and learn about, the democratic process.”
In a news release, Sykes said that this was a long-needed reform.
“Taxpayers have a right to know what is happening in their statehouses and allowing a live look into the legislative process is key for ethical governing,” Sykes said. “That is why I was proud to work across the aisle with Speaker Householder to see this historic transition to fruition. With these much-needed reforms in transparency, Ohio taxpayers will now be better able to engage with and access their state government and elected officials.”
According to the news release, the state legislature has also instituted reforms to improve human resources operations and make the legislative process more open and collaborative.