Effort to Increase Subcommittee Transparency Moving Through General Assembly

Feb 18, 2019

Lawmakers in Richmond are considering a proposal that would shed greater light on how state government works.

Remember that viral video of Delegate Kathy Tran explaining her bill on late-term abortion? Don’t look for an official video because lawmakers do not record or archive subcommittees.

Delegate Mark Levine is a Democrat from Alexandria who says that’s wrong.

“More than half of all bills in the General Assembly die in subcommittee. Subcommittee is where bills are first heard. It’s where bills are first amended. It’s where tough questions are first raised.”

That’s why he’s working with Republican Senator Amanda Chase of Chesterfield to request the clerks of the House and Senate to broadcast all subcommittee meetings.

“Because right now it’s completely off the radar. I’m done with politics as usual. The Transparency Caucus is done with politics as usual. We don’t like the smoke and mirrors.”

Open government is not free though. The cost of installing the hardware and uploading all that video is estimated at about $60,000. So far that money has not been appropriated, but Delegate Levine and Senator Chase are hopeful that the clerks of the House and Senate will find some discretionary money and shed a little sunlight on Virginia politics.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.