In March, the federal government gave the state of North Dakota just over a billion dollars in COVID-19 aid to be distributed how they see fit.
$750,000 of that will be used to live-stream legislative committee hearings. The cost to upgrade meeting rooms has been looked at in the past, but until the pandemic, it wasn’t a priority. North Dakota is one of the only states that does not live-stream its committee hearings.
“A good portion of the money will be used for the equipment, installing cameras, the hardware behind it. Also, there is a portion of the money will be devoted for the software that’s used for indexing the hearings and some of that background product as well,” said Legislative Council Director John Bjornson.
Currently, only the audio is recorded at these hearings and made available for the public. Adding the live-stream is another way the legislators feel like they can fulfill their responsibilities to the public.
“I think that it’s a good investment of money for the people to be able to observe the legislative process. More important than them be able to observe to me is to be able to participate,” said State Sen. Dick Dever.
Testimonies from the public are an important part of the process and some of the money will be used to find a way for those testimonies to be submitted remotely.