At a hearing for the House State Government committee Wednesday (chair: Mecklenborg) the committee adopted a rule saying no one can audio or videotape committee hearings without permission of the chair AND the person speaking.

Let me repeat that: Every person speaking at the hearing needs to provide approval before you can record a hearing.

These hearings can often be like a circus with speakers being paraded through like clowns coming out of a tiny car. The expectation that anyone will get permission from every speaker at a committee hearing is absolutely ridiculous. And I’m guessing that’s the point.

While the rest of government is forced to abide by sunshine laws, the legislature gets a pass. They pass laws and creates rules that make it excessively difficult for journalists – and nearly impossible for non-journalists – to monitor and track the legislative process.

Legislators already protected themselves against public records requests by making all correspondenceĀ  between legislative staff and general assembly members and staff private. And they do their best to limit the availability of their other activities as well.

While the House Rules allow for the general proceedings of the house to be completely public and actually require them to be “broadcast by Ohio Government Telecommunications”, all of the real work of the legislature is done in committee hearings like the one I mentioned earlier. And while hearings are technically open to the public, the only way to view a hearing is to actually show up in Columbus and attend the hearing in person. And even if you do attend the hearing, house rules prevent anyone from recording the proceedings without getting approval of the Speaker.

And if you aren’t an official radio or television correspondent, then they added another step to the process. According to the existing rules “no video taping or filming of sessions of the House shall be carried on without the notification of the Speaker and the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association“.

It’s bad enough that the hearings aren’t broadcast so if you want to view a committee hearing in Ohio you have to drive to Columbus, pay for parking downtown, sit in the hearing room with your pen and paper and hope you can take notes fast enough.

It’s worse that if you want to record a committee hearing so you can compare it to your notes, you need to inform the speaker and either belong the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association or inform them of your intent in advance.

But now, at least in this committee, you also have to hunt down everyone who is going speak at the hearing and give them permissions slips if you want to use your little portable tape recorder?

And we thought John Kasich was bad on transparency.

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  • Guest

    that’s just silly. If this is actually going to happen, I’d hope that they’re making everyone who’s speaking sign a waiver giving permission to be recorded.

  • Anonymous

    Has this always been the rule or is it something new? Or is this just the first time they’ve clarified it like this?

  • Anonymous

    Has this always been the rule or is it something new? Or is this just the first time they’ve clarified it like this?

  • guest

    LOL! IOKIYAR…they make the rules for everyone but themselves and if you break the rules you are bad and a socialist. To me because they can because they don’t work for us Roldo. They work for their corporate masters to pimp us out to the lowest bidder. That does not include letting us know what they are doing. That is the privilege of paying for our oppression.

  • Anonymous

    The House Rules have always stated that you needed permission of the chair to record the proceedings. What appears new is the requirement to get permission of individual speakers who appear before the committee, making the rule totally impractical.

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    just another way to HIDE what really goes on — I dont care whos rule it is — its a bad rule !! we pay these people , we elect them , they answer to us — cant question if you dont know what they said or did …

  • Guy

    Isn’t Ohio a one party recording state? Or does that not work when a telephone isn’t involved?

  • Anonymous

    One-party recording laws don’t apply to government meetings. Generally apply to phone calls and otherwise private conversations.

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