Monday, March 9, 2009

Saturday Night Massacre

Sen. John Sapien
That's a basic description of how people who support webcasting the Legislature felt after Saturday night's fun and games in the Senate.

Basically here's what happened:

Sen. Mark Boitano's legislation, Senate Resolution 3, would have changed the Senate rules to require live streaming of Senate floor sessions.

But here's the catch: Because it's a rules change, the resolution needs a two-thirds majority if any amendments are tacked on from the Senate floor.

And they amended it. Twice.

One of the amendments would create a webcasting oversight committee. The other has to do with camera angles.

That's right. Camera angles. Sapien and the senators who supported his amendment felt it essential to have the web camera mounted at the back of the chambers to give viewers the same vantage point of people in the gallery.

I wasn't working Saturday, but I got sucked in the live blogging by The New Mexico Independent and Santa Fe Reporter. (Tip, these guys started the live blogging around 11 am. The webcasting debate didn't start until around 8 p.m., so you might want to skip ahead.)

So guess what the Senate did Saturday night ... Basically they played with the bill like a cat with a wounded mouse.

Freshman Sen. John Sapien sponsored the two amendments. Apparently at some point Sapien claimed he wasn't trying to sink the resolution.


But senators supporting it said that's exactly what was going on.

Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, who participated in the live blogging, explained it best.

You have also to realize that another consideration involved in putting an amendment on, to raise to the required vote to two-thirds: requiring 28 votes allows a lot of senators to ostensibly vote FOR webcasting on the final passage, perhaps as many as 27, while knowing that the rule will fail. They can then say they "supported" webcasting, but would not have done so had it required a simple majority ...

Is that too cynical? We'll see today (hopefully) how close the affirmative vote comes to 27.