State Capitol to livestream legislative meetings

Published: Feb. 12, 2020 at 7:18 PM CST
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After years of delays and budget obstacles, new cameras and projectors are going in at the State Capitol Building to livestream legislative meetings.

If an aviation student at the University of North Dakota wanted to listen to a legislative meeting on drone development, they would have to make the four-hour drive from Grand Forks to Bismarck. And on days like Wednesday, they'd be lucky to even get on the interstate.

But in a matter of days, that student could partake in that public meeting from the comfort of their dorm room. Thanks to these new HD cameras being installed in the two busiest meeting rooms.

As part of a pilot program approved by legislators, the Roughrider and Harvest Rooms will be equipped with cameras for online visitors.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, who was a big proponent of live streaming, hopes it not only increases participation, but also holds legislators more accountable for what they say.

"Many times, Legislators are misquoted, there's rumors about this and that. This way, the public can sit in, they can see exactly what it is,” Wardner said.

The technology will cost the state $100,000 a year with one-time installation costs. IT staff say it would cost $225,000 to install the cameras in every meeting room.

Many of the rooms already had cameras installed a few years back, but the new ones will be in High Definition.

This technology was slated to be installed earlier this decade, but the budget crisis in 2015 delayed full implementation.

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