Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

04/15/2010 08:00 AM House STATE AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
08:05:05 AM Start
08:05:21 AM SB184
08:49:19 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved HCS SB 184(STA) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
          SB 184-INTERNET ACCESS TO LEG COMMITTEE MTGS                                                                      
8:05:21 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN announced  that the only order of  business was SENATE                                                               
BILL NO.  184, "An Act  relating to public access  to legislative                                                               
committee  meetings   during  regular  legislative   sessions  by                                                               
Internet broadcast."                                                                                                            
8:08:14 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HOLLIS  FRENCH, Alaska  State Legislature,  introduced SB
184  as sponsor.    He said  the proposed  bill  would bring  the                                                               
workings of the  legislature to everyplace in  Alaska where there                                                               
is a  computer.  He said  allowing the people of  Alaska to watch                                                               
live-streaming  of every  committee meeting  will make  them feel                                                               
more connected  to what goes on  in the capitol.   Senator French                                                               
acknowledged that  Gavel to Gavel currently  provides coverage of                                                               
meetings  on  cable television  throughout  the  state, but  said                                                               
Gavel to Gavel is not able to cover every meeting.                                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH  noted that video cameras  were recently installed                                                               
by  the Legislative  Affairs Agency  on a  trial basis  in select                                                               
committee  rooms  in  the  capitol  -  the  House  State  Affairs                                                               
Standing Committee  room being one  - and  prior to the  start of                                                               
the meeting,  some committee members  were able to see  what that                                                               
live-streaming looks like  on a computer screen.   Senator French                                                               
stated, "It's not nearly the same  quality as Gavel to Gavel, but                                                               
I  think,  ...  in  the  interest  of  balancing  expense  versus                                                               
expediency, the web  camera is a fair ... compromise."   He noted                                                               
that the  bill would  not require  the live-streams  be archived;                                                               
the intent  of the  bill is  to make the  video available  to the                                                               
public as the committees are meeting.                                                                                           
8:12:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON directed attention  to the last sentence of                                                               
SB 184, on page 1, lines 13-14, which read as follows:                                                                          
      The electronic recordings produced by a fixed camera                                                                      
     under this section are not public records and are not                                                                      
     required to be retained or stored.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON asked  the  bill sponsor  to confirm  that                                                               
that  would not  prohibit the  public from  recording that  which                                                               
would be live-streamed from the fixed camera.                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH said  that language is directed at  the state, and                                                               
he offered  his understanding  that the public  would be  able to                                                               
keep records if desired.                                                                                                        
8:14:10 AM                                                                                                                    
SUE  GULLUFSEN, Manager,  Legislative  Information Office  (LIO),                                                               
Legislative  Affairs  Agency,  in  response to  a  question  from                                                               
Representative Johnson,  confirmed that the  live-streaming would                                                               
be operated simultaneously with  the LIO's audio recording, which                                                               
means that  the video would turned  off when the audio  is turned                                                               
off,  for   example,  during   an  at-ease.     In   response  to                                                               
Representative  Seaton, she  said the  intent  of the  LIO is  to                                                               
live-stream only  during committee  meetings.  However,  she said                                                               
the LIO  could accommodate  the legislature  if, for  example, it                                                               
wanted a special presentation live-streamed.                                                                                    
8:16:22 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. GULLUFSEN, in response to  Representative P. Wilson, said she                                                               
had  not considered  offering live-streaming  from meetings  that                                                               
take place  in Anchorage  during the interim,  but she  said that                                                               
would be a good idea.                                                                                                           
8:17:36 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM  POWERS,  IT   Coordinator,  Legislative  Information  Office                                                               
(LIO), Legislative Affairs Agency,  in response to Representative                                                               
Gatto, clarified  that although the  audio was not  running until                                                               
the red light was on, the video camera was.                                                                                     
8:18:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. GULLUFSEN,  in response to Representative  Petersen, said the                                                               
LIO  could consider  installing  video cameras  in  all the  LIOs                                                               
throughout the state.                                                                                                           
MR.  POWERS  surmised  that Representative  Petersen  is  talking                                                               
about a video  conferencing solution that would  allow the public                                                               
to be in  an LIO and watch  a presenter.  He  explained that that                                                               
would be a separate project;  the infrastructure being set up now                                                               
is  designed to  be only  a one-way  video stream  rather than  a                                                               
synchronized, two-way video stream.                                                                                             
8:19:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. GULLUFSEN,  in response to  Representative Johnson,  said the                                                               
budget  reflected  in the  fiscal  note  would  be used  to  hire                                                               
someone part-time and seasonally to  run the live-streaming.  The                                                               
$56,000  designated for  equipment would  be used  to outfit  the                                                               
other seven  committee rooms.  She  said the LIO plans  to absorb                                                               
the bandwidth within its present budget.                                                                                        
8:19:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  said  he   receives  a  message  on  his                                                               
computer four  to five times  a day  stating that his  mailbox is                                                               
full, and his  requests for expanded bandwidth  have been denied.                                                               
He indicated  that he  has been unable  to send  committee packet                                                               
information to his committee because  of a lack of bandwidth, and                                                               
he  expressed   concern  that  the  proposed   legislation  would                                                               
exacerbate  that problem.   He  questioned what  the addition  of                                                               
live-streaming  in seven  other  committee rooms  would cost  and                                                               
what it would do to existing bandwidth.                                                                                         
MR. POWERS  said he cannot speak  to the financial aspect  of the                                                               
project.  Regarding the process,  he explained that currently all                                                               
the LIO's  video is streamed  to a  company called Watershed.   A                                                               
person  who   watches  that  video   is  actually   pulling  that                                                               
information off Watershed's web site.   He explained that the LIO                                                               
has  dedicated digital  subscriber line  (DSL) in  place for  the                                                               
live-streaming that is separate from the state's network.                                                                       
MS.  GULLUFSEN,   in  response  to  a   follow-up  question  from                                                               
Representative Johnson,  said the DSL  is the bandwidth  that the                                                               
LIO  plans   to  absorb   in  its  budget.     She   offered  her                                                               
understanding  that the  state had  expressed  concern about  the                                                               
LIO's use of  the state's network, which is why  the LIO chose to                                                               
use an outside vendor.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON said he appreciates  knowing the LIO would                                                               
be  using a  dedicated  DSL line,  because he  said  he wants  to                                                               
ensure  he will  not be  more restricted  in bandwidth  use.   He                                                               
stated his support of the concept of the bill.                                                                                  
8:22:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN,  after ascertaining  that there was  no one  else who                                                               
wished to testify, closed public testimony.                                                                                     
8:23:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON moved  to adopt  Amendment 1,  labeled 26-                                                               
LS0833\A.1, Cook, 4/14/10, which read as follows:                                                                               
     Page 1, line 10:                                                                                                           
          Delete ", except for executive sessions,"                                                                             
     Page 1, line 13, following "progress.":                                                                                    
          Insert "However, periods when a committee is in                                                                       
     executive session,  in recess,  or at  ease may  not be                                                                    
     recorded, nor may  a live audio or video  feed of those                                                                    
     periods  be  made  available   to  the  public  through                                                                    
     Internet broadcast."                                                                                                       
CHAIR LYNN objected for discussion purposes.                                                                                    
8:23:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  objected for  discussion purposes.   He                                                               
asked  what  assurance  there  would  be  that  the  video  live-                                                               
streaming is turned off during an executive session.                                                                            
CHAIR LYNN stated his assumption that  it would work the same way                                                               
as when the committee goes to an at-ease.                                                                                       
[SENATOR FRENCH nodded.]                                                                                                        
8:24:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON recollected that [Mr.  Powers] had said                                                               
that during  an at-ease,  the audio  would be  shut off,  but the                                                               
video  would still  be running.   She  offered her  understanding                                                               
that the person  who runs the LIO equipment  during meetings will                                                               
have  the  extra  responsibility of  running  the  live-streaming                                                               
8:25:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. POWERS  confirmed that the LIO  plans to turn off  the audio,                                                               
but leave the video running  during an executive session, just as                                                               
it would during an  at-ease.  However, he said the  LIO can put a                                                               
different  plan   in  place  if   that  is  the  desire   of  the                                                               
legislature.  In response to  Representative Wilson, he indicated                                                               
that [under SB 184], there would  be one person sitting in a room                                                               
watching  the  video  streams  -  up  to  9  at  the  same  time;                                                               
therefore, that person  would have to be contacted  for the video                                                               
to be shut off.                                                                                                                 
8:26:41 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  opined that this is a  policy call that                                                               
should be  made before any other  video equipment is wired.   She                                                               
surmised  that with  Amendment 1,  the audio  and video  would be                                                               
turned off automatically  when the LIO turned  off the recording,                                                               
which  would mean  the  person  who is  watching  the video  from                                                               
another office would not have to be contacted.                                                                                  
8:27:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN said  he thinks Amendment 1 would "put  what we always                                                               
had intended" in statute to be clear.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  stated his  preference that the  audio and                                                               
video or  live-streaming be shut off  whenever a meeting is  at a                                                               
standstill, and for a message to  show on the video screen during                                                               
those  times  stating  what  is  coming  up  next,  or  that  the                                                               
committee is at-ease, for example.   He said he thinks the intent                                                               
to  broadcast all  committee  meetings  is a  good  idea, and  he                                                               
indicated  that  Amendment  1   would  eliminate  the  unintended                                                               
consequence of having the video streaming all day long.                                                                         
8:30:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN asked Mr. Powers  if it would be possible                                                               
to control the audio and video with the same button.                                                                            
8:30:39 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. POWERS said currently the LIO  has two models of equipment in                                                               
place,  and  some  of  the   older  equipment  has  a  "physical,                                                               
mechanical  relay," which  switches on  and  off.   He said  that                                                               
older  model's relay  "would probably  suffice to  cut the  video                                                               
stream also if the  video was wired through it."   In some of the                                                               
newer  [meeting] rooms,  he  related, there  is  a newer  digital                                                               
audio system  and the red  button functions much  differently, in                                                               
that there  is no  relay.   Where the newer  system is  used, Mr.                                                               
Powers said, the  LIO would probably have to figure  out a way to                                                               
"wire  that  through  in  that  system also."    In  response  to                                                               
Representative Seaton's  suggestion to have  upcoming information                                                               
showing on the  screen - "overlays" - he said  that would be more                                                               
time consuming and  would require more staff  and more equipment,                                                               
because of  the need  to watch  for stops  and starts  during the                                                               
8:31:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON expressed his support  of Amendment 1.  He                                                               
said he  is not  concerned about  the issue  of at-eases,  but he                                                               
emphasized the  importance of maintaining the  confidentiality of                                                               
executive sessions.                                                                                                             
8:34:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN removed his objection.                                                                                               
8:34:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked  what steps would be  taken by the                                                               
LIO to prevent  any of its staff from  inadvertently watching the                                                               
video during an executive session.                                                                                              
8:35:16 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  GULLUFSEN said  she cannot  immediately say  what steps  she                                                               
would take; however, she emphasized  that she clearly understands                                                               
the importance of executive sessions.   Currently, she said, when                                                               
committees go into  executive session, the moderator  in the room                                                               
flips  a  switch so  that  the  session  is  not recorded.    She                                                               
stressed  that  under SB  184,  with  Amendment  1, it  would  be                                                               
important for that moderator to  communicate closely with the LIO                                                               
staff  who  would be  running  the  live-streaming in  the  other                                                               
office, to tell him/her to shut off the video.                                                                                  
8:36:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  he  thinks it  is important  that                                                               
there be  specific policies in  place to address this  issue, and                                                               
that those policies need to be okayed by Legislative Council.                                                                   
8:37:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN  asked  if adopting  Amendment  1  would                                                               
result in an increased fiscal note.                                                                                             
8:37:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. POWERS  imparted that tackling executive  sessions only could                                                               
be  handled by  one staff  person,  because the  number of  times                                                               
executive  sessions  occur during  the  course  of a  legislative                                                               
session is very low.                                                                                                            
8:37:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  suggested that  it may be  beneficial to                                                               
amend  Amendment  1,  so  that   the  language  applies  only  to                                                               
executive sessions.                                                                                                             
8:38:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  reminded the  committee that  [Mr. Powers]                                                               
had said  that the system  could be wired  so that the  video and                                                               
audio  are  turned off  together,  which  would not  require  any                                                               
further staff.   He acknowledged  that [Mr. Powers] had  said the                                                               
increase in  cost would  come from adding  overlays to  the video                                                               
live-streaming, and Amendment 1 does not proposed that be done.                                                                 
8:40:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  said any committee she  has ever served                                                               
on  has known  well in  advance if  it was  going to  go into  an                                                               
executive  session during  its meeting;  therefore,  she said  it                                                               
would be  possible to give  the LIO  staff notice to  pay special                                                               
attention to  know when to  shut down  the video for  an upcoming                                                               
executive session.                                                                                                              
8:41:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG reiterated  his concern that Legislative                                                               
Council  should  have the  authority  to  implement the  proposed                                                               
language,  and  he   asked  if  the  council   already  has  that                                                               
MS.  GULLUFSEN responded  that she  thinks  the council  probably                                                               
does  have the  authority, since  it already  oversees the  LIO's                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he  would like confirmation on that                                                               
8:42:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  removed his objection to  the motion to                                                               
adopt Amendment 1.   There being no  further objection, Amendment                                                               
1 was adopted.                                                                                                                  
8:42:40 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON spoke  of a recent incident  in which "our                                                               
private  information  had  been  hacked  into"  and  "potentially                                                               
became public."   He said he advocates for public  access, but is                                                               
particularly   concerned   about  security,   especially   during                                                               
executive session.   He stated that  he does not want  someone to                                                               
be able to hack into an executive session.                                                                                      
8:44:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  noted  that   the  proposed  bill,  as                                                               
amended, does not include special sessions.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON pointed out  that the legislature sometimes                                                               
meets outside of  Juneau during special sessions,  and if special                                                               
sessions were  included in the  bill language, then  [video live-                                                               
streaming equipment  would have  to be set  up] around  the state                                                               
and every  committee meeting outside  of Juneau would have  to be                                                               
live-streamed.    Not  including  special sessions  in  the  bill                                                               
language would not  mean meetings outside of Juneau  could not be                                                               
live-streamed;  it would  just not  make it  mandatory that  they                                                               
8:46:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said  the bill  only  addresses  those                                                               
rooms that are already set up  with fixed cameras.  He then noted                                                               
that special  sessions often  take place in  Juneau.   He stated,                                                               
"I'm  wondering if  there's a  reason, since  we're only  dealing                                                               
with rooms  that are already set  up for this, why  this does not                                                               
include special  sessions, because all  it would require  is them                                                               
turning on the camera."                                                                                                         
8:47:22 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  said he  shares Representative  Seaton's concerns                                                               
that [including  special sessions  in the  language of  the bill]                                                               
could  result  in  inadvertently  requiring  live-streaming  from                                                               
places other  than the capitol.   He  said the bill,  as amended,                                                               
would cover "95 percent of what we do."                                                                                         
CHAIR LYNN concurred with Senator French.                                                                                       
8:48:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN said  he thinks SB 184, as  amended, is a                                                               
good idea.   He said Alaska is  "one of the most  wired states in                                                               
the Union,  if not the most,"  and any way to  make sessions more                                                               
available to the public is "a good thing."                                                                                      
8:48:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN moved  to report SB 184,  as amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
8:48:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked for confirmation that the fiscal                                                                    
note that would be attached is dated 1/29/2010.                                                                                 
CHAIR LYNN and REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN confirmed that is                                                                        
8:48:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN announced that without objection, HCS SB 184(STA) was                                                                
reported out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                     
CHAIR LYNN thanked supporting staff for their help during                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 SB 184.pdf HSTA 4/15/2010 8:00:00 AM
SB 184
02 SB 184 Sponsor Statement.PDF HSTA 4/15/2010 8:00:00 AM
SB 184
03 SB 184 KTOO letter.pdf HSTA 4/15/2010 8:00:00 AM
SB 184
Amendment A.1 to SB 184.pdf HSTA 4/15/2010 8:00:00 AM
SB 184