Upgrades in the remodeled Capitol made for a huge advance in
public access to the proceedings of the House and Senate. Floor actions are available on live video and audio is live-streamed from committees.
But the question of whether to preserve the digital record has been a largely behind-the-scenes conversation among top legislative leaders. The technology exists, says Idaho Public TV General Manager, but current policy calls for destruction of the Legislature's digital audio and video after five days.
Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, is a leading skeptic. "I have a variety of serious concerns about it," Davis told me Friday.
Davis co-wrote a 2007 Idaho Law Review article about the import of legislative history, titled, "Use of Legislative History: Willow Witching for Legislative Intent." His co-authors were then-Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly, D-Boise, and the Legislature's librarian, Kristin Ford. All three authors are lawyers.
Davis agrees with many traditionalists that the journals of the House and Senate and committee minutes should comprise the legislative history, which Davis, Kelly and Ford define as "any and all public documents relating to the law when it was still a bill in the legislature."
Last month, the matter was raised at a meeting of the Legislative Council, the joint governing body of the Legislature, under the agenda item, "Should IPTV coverage of committee and floor action be archived?"
The answer, for now, is "No."
Legislative Services Office Director Jeff Youtz said other states keep digital archives and expects that Legislative Council will revisit the issue.
Davis agreed, saying, "It is a conversation and it will continue."
You can follow Idaho Statesman Politics on Twitter.