When the N.M. Legislature convenes Tuesday, the House will, for the first time, preserve video recordings of its meetings and post them online for people to view at their convenience.
John Yaeger, assistant director for legislative affairs at the Legislative Council Service, confirmed that meetings will be recorded and archived on the Legislature’s website.
“I don’t have a good estimate yet on how soon following a live stream the archive will be available; some of that may depend on the length of the meeting,” he said.
Members of the House unanimously approved legislation last year sponsored by Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, to begin archiving webcasts online this session. Steinborn said the move is “a huge development for transparency.”
“It’s just so important for people to see what transpires,” he said. “It’s that historical record, and it’s also important so that people who aren’t able to watch real time are able to participate.”
Steinborn was elected to a seat in the N.M. Senate in November and will leave the House to join that chamber when the 60-day session begins Tuesday. The Senate webcasts live video of committee meetings and floor sessions but has thus far resisted calls to archive video online for people to watch any time.
Joint interim committee meetings are also webcast but not archived.
Steinborn said he’s had conversations with the Senate’s new majority leader, Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, about archiving Senate meetings. Wirth recently told NMPolitics.net that archiving Senate webcasts “seems to make sense.”
“This remains a very important priority for me — to start this in the Senate as well,” Steinborn said. “It’s being discussed. As to the mechanics of when or how, there’s not an answer yet, but I can tell you I am working on it, as is Senator Wirth.”
Archiving webcasts has become a fairly common way to increase citizens’ access to their government. It allows people with busy schedules to catch up when they have free time.
The vast majority of state legislatures archive webcasts of at least some of their meetings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And in New Mexico, the state’s largest cities — Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe — archive webcasts of meetings of their governing boards. So do many smaller towns including Hobbs, Las Vegas, Silver City and Socorro.
Locally in Las Cruces, other governing bodies, including the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners, the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education, and the New Mexico State University Board of Regents archive webcasts of their meetings.
Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration also archives webcasts of meetings of many state boards and commissions, such as the Board of Finance.