This, our first-ever guest post, was written by Suzanne Nichols, our General Assembly intern:
Videotaping committees and subcommittees this General Assembly has met with an array of responses. Many representatives have personally thanked us and some even requested we tape their bills. Delegate Kenny Alexander (D-89, Norfolk) was pleased to have made it onto our blog. Others have requested copies of the videos.
Then you have the extreme from the other side. Our first incident occurred when a woman, opposing one of our pro-life bills, told us not to tape her testimony after realizing we were from The Family Foundation. When I told her we were, since it was a public hearing, she said that we had a bad reputation for video taping. Word must travel fast because this was just the second or third time we had taped anything.
One afternoon in Senate Courts of Justice, a clerk asked us if it was “necessary to tape” a particular bill and seemed confused that we were not from the press. I guess it is not necessary, but holding people accountable for their words is worth the ire it raises. In Senate Finance last week, the Capitol Police eyed our camera and then asked Senator John Watkins (R-10, Powhatan) if we were intimidating him to which he replied, “No.”
One afternoon, while in the GAB’s 6th floor cafeteria, I ran into the woman who had not wanted her testimony on video. After some friendly banter, I reminded her I was the one from The Family Foundation who had recorded her prior testimony. Her demeanor changed instantly. She informed me that she was deeply disturbed and “did not think this information should be getting out there.” This presented a fine opportunity to let her know why we have started filming and that we do, indeed, place the videos on our blog.
Our opponents do not want you watching how our bills fare or the nature of the testimony they bring against them. On the other hand, we think you should know the processes and outcomes here in Richmond.
Suzanne Nichols, from Harrisonburg, is a 2008 graduate of Grove City College in Pennsylvania where she received a B.A. in History. During session, she has ably researched and written on a variety of issues. She also, to the consternation of many, taped the telling committee videos you’ve seen on this blog (see her work at our YouTube page). When she told me the story, I immediately knew we had out first ever guest blog post. — The admin.