Arkansas Senate drops ban on recording, livestreaming

February 16, 2022 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday dropped a ban on the public using cellular devices to record and livestream its sessions from the gallery and created a process to credential media organizations covering the chamber.

The Senate Efficiency Committee voted to remove the ban from procedures had been posted outside the gallery on Monday as lawmakers began this year’s fiscal session.

The procedures, which also includes bans on signs and “noise-making” devices, were issued following heated debates last year where Senate leaders admonished audience members for clapping or other outbursts. They were also posted the same day protesters were removed from the House gallery for chanting at Gov. Asa Hutchinson during his state of the state address.

But the recording ban was roundly criticized by Democratic and Republican senators on the panel who said it went against the idea of transparency.

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The committee also approved a credentialing process for reporters and photographers covering the chamber. Under the process, media organizations will be issued two passes per session.

The panel removed a provision that would have made the credentials available only to media organizations filed with the state as a limited liability corporation or sponsored by taxpayers’ dollars.