A simple step for transparency in Kansas government

There exists a simple and inexpensive way for the Kansas Legislature to make its proceedings more readily available.

Proceedings of the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives are broadcast on the internet. That’s good. But the broadcasts are carried only live. There is no archive of recordings. Citizens must listen live, or figure out some way to record the audio. It’s possible, but beyond what most people are willing to do. And given the unpredictable schedule of the legislature, you can’t simply set a timer to start at a certain time each day.

There is a desire by some for live video of the proceedings, which would be great. Even better is archived video, where a person doesn’t have to watch live. But these options are expensive. The expenditure would be worthwhile, but there doesn’t seem to be much desire to spend on this.

Audio, however, provides almost all the benefit of video of legislative proceedings. And it’s cheap. For eight dollars per month the legislature could make audio recordings of its proceedings available to listen to at any time.

For eight dollars per month at least one podcast hosting company offers an unlimited plan. Unlimited storage, and unlimited bandwidth. That’s just what is needed 1. Since the audio of the proceedings is broadcast on the internet, it must pass through a computer somewhere. That computer could also be recording the audio. Once recorded, the process of uploading the audio to the podcast host is a trivial procedure. The recording needs no editing. (In fact, any editing other than cutting away silence before the start and after the end of the session must be disallowed.)

But there’s a problem. Neither Kansas legislative chamber records their proceedings, according to the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House.

Making audio archives or podcasts of legislative session would be so simple. It is almost without cost. It would have great benefit. Interns could do the work, and it would be good experience for them.

But the Kansas Legislature doesn’t do this. We need to ask legislative leaders to make this happen.

  1. For $79 per month the same company offers a plan geared towards business, with features like multiple administrative users. This is probably more appropriate for the Legislature. But the eight dollar plan would work, too.

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