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House panel rejects proposal to archive chamber webcasts

A proposal to archive webcasts of New Mexico House committee and floor proceedings was derailed today, though members of a House panel did advance a separate measure calling for live webcasting of interim hearings.

The House Appropriations and Finance Committee voted 7-5 to table the archiving measure, with all Republicans present voting in favor of the tabling motion.

Some lawmakers raised concerns about the cost of archiving webcasts of House floor sessions and committee hearings, while others pointed out Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration already archives its webcasts of most — but not all — legislative business.

“I think if the executive wants to do it, lets let them (pay for it),” said Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan.

Others offered different reasons, with Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, saying, “When I leave here, I don’t want to think about this place.”

Currently, all House and Senate floor sessions and committee hearings are webcast on live streams (you can link to the webcasts here). However, there is no way to access those webcasts after the fact.

Backers of House Resolution 2, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said making those webcasts available via archival would increase government transparency.

“I believe it’s an idea long overdue,” said Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos. “I think the public already believes we do this.”

While majority Republicans voted down the measure today, a similar proposal stalled last year in the House when Democrats controlled the chamber.

Meanwhile, the House finance committee did approve a separate proposal to webcast interim committee meetings, which happen when the Legislature is not in session. Some of those hearings, which are held around New Mexico, are currently webcasted but others are not.

That proposal was approved only after being amended so as not to allow for archiving. It now advances to the House Rules and Order of Business Committee for additional consideration.