Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
01/28/2010 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 184-INTERNET ACCESS TO LEG COMMITTEE MTGS 9:03:21 AM CHAIR MENARD said the first order of business to come before the committee was SB 184. SENATOR FRENCH, sponsor of SB 184, said the capitol is best brought to Alaska through the Internet. Some parts of Alaska are remote and inaccessible in relation to the state capitol, no matter where it is in the state. He felt that every committee room should be feeding a stream of information to the laptops and handheld devices of Alaska's citizens and this can be done with the simple, reliable and inexpensive technology of web cameras. He said he can foresee a day when citizens of Alaska will watch what is happening in the capitol over their cell phones. SENATOR FRENCH said he filed SB 184 last spring and the Legislative Council became interested. Working with the Legislative Information Office (LIO), they began to implement the idea. SUE GULLUFSEN, Manager of the LIO, said she received permission from Senate and House Rules Committee Chairs to implement a pilot project and to use some funds from Legislative Council for consulting fees. She did not use the funds because her IT staff, Jake Carpenter and Tim Powers, developed the pilot project in- house. She said her staff outfitted the House Health and Social Services committee (HHSS) room with webcams. [She showed live streaming video coverage of the House State Affairs committee meeting from her laptop which projected on the wall.] Ms. Gullufsen pointed out that a small screen showed the testifiers and a big screen showed the committee members simultaneously. She said the Butrovich Room was also outfitted with two cameras in the same manner. 9:07:40 AM MS. GULLUFSEN explained that the audio feed is tied to the teleconference feed and will go silent during an At Ease and upon adjournment of the meeting. Ms. Gullufsen noted that webcams are good but not TV production quality. MS. GULLUFSON said that if the pilot project is successful, she will ask for funding from Legislative Council or if SB 184 becomes law, funding will go through the Finance Committee process. LIO would outfit the seven remaining committee rooms in the capitol building making every committee meeting held during the session accessible online. She explained that while SB 184 would not mandate that all video and audio be archived, the LIO intended to do so. People could go back later and see or hear any committee meeting that took place during session which is helpful for committee aides and the public. 9:09:37 AM MS. GULLUFSEN said she would need $56,000 to outfit seven committee rooms and pay a part-time staff person to monitor from the new media services office on the second floor of the Terry Miller building. MATT WALLACE, Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG) said that AKPIRG is a statewide citizen oriented non-profit non- partisan public interest advocacy group. AKPIRG supports SB 184. 9:12:30 AM MR. WALLACE said people outside of the capitol will be able to closely monitor what goes on and citizens will be able to watch the proceedings of the state. Public participation and monitoring should be encouraged; the more sunshine on the legislative process, the better. He encouraged the use of open and cross-platform standards so that the most people possible, using the widest range of technology, can take advantage of it. ARLISS STURGULEWSKI, former Alaska state Senator, spoke in support of SB 184. She said that SB 184 is related to past actions to make government more accessible and is a good step to further maximize citizen's access to their legislative decision makers. State residents want and welcome information and she suggests the legislators should make it clear and easy for their constituents, particularly older people, to understand where to find information and how to use this new technology. 9:15:38 AM CLARK GRUENING, with the City and Borough of Juneau and the Alaska Committee, spoke in support of SB 184. He said the City and Borough of Juneau supports and largely funds Gavel to Gavel and that the Alaska Committee has worked to improve access to the capitol and also supports Gavel to Gavel. However, Gavel to Gavel is not in every committee room simultaneously. SB 184 would lead to every committee being accessible through the Internet. He noted that KTOO, the force behind Gavel to Gavel, is in support of SB 184. 9:18:27 AM CHAIR MENARD closed public testimony. SENATOR MEYER asked if users will have to add additional memory to their computers or handheld devices and if the video will come across slowly or in real time. JAKE CARPENTER, Legislative Information Office, replied that they use FLASH which is the same technology used by many websites such as Youtube or Hulu. Most MAC's and PC's have FLASH installed. The video is not high definition and most computers should be able to view it. He said that people with dial-up or slow connections will not get the same quality of service. Once the meeting is over, however, it will be downloadable. SENATOR MEYER asked if a 1990 computer would need to be upgraded. MR. CARPENTER replied yes. 9:20:47 AM SENATOR MEYER moved to report SB 184 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, SB 184 moved from the Senate State Affairs Standing Committee.