Certain legislators need to reread the Open Meetings Act.
Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, had Amy Hedtke removed from a State Affairs hearing in March because she was livestreaming the public meeting.
Hedtke sued Cook, and a district judge issued a temporary injunction.
Though most meetings are already filmed for public consumption, Cook established a policy against non-media personnel filming State Affairs Committee meetings, where he serves as chairman.
But it’s not his place to stop anyone from videoing a public government meeting.
“A person in attendance may record all or any part of an open meeting of a governmental body by means of a recorder, video camera, or other means of aural or visual reproduction,” says the Texas Open Meetings Act, a section of the state’s government code.
That’s the law and Cook’s policy isn’t above it.
It understandable to see the worry of having non-media attendees pulling out a recording device. In this viral-sensitive age, a livestreaming cellphone has developed a negative connotation.
We get the unease. But we also stand behind the Open Meetings Act and government transparency.
If attendees aren’t causing a disruption — they can video the meeting. Period.