When the Idaho Legislature convenes its next session in 2014, there’ll be two large committee rooms with live video-streaming instead of one (the rest of the committee meeting rooms have only audio streaming, while the chambers of the House and Senate have video streaming). The Legislative Council, the leadership committee that oversees legislative business between sessions, heard this morning that the project to add video streaming to room EW42 of the Capitol, the largest committee meeting room on the House side and the home of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee along with the agriculture and judiciary committees, is on track to be completed by mid-December. “This is one of the things that we really felt was needed in the Capitol … so we’d have two areas that could be used for streaming to the public,” said Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, who serves as co-chair of the Capitol Services Committee.
There’s already video streaming from the 350-seat Lincoln Auditorium on the Senate side of the lower level of the Capitol; now there’ll be streaming from a room on the House side as well. Jeff Youtz, Idaho legislative services director, said he expects the service to be used a lot; room EW42 seats close to 200 people.
The $55,700 cost of the upgrade will be paid for by the Capitol Commission, with funds from the endowment for operating the capitol.
Other Statehouse upgrades in the works for the upcoming session include some reconfiguring of the seating on the dais in the auditorium for easier access; upgrades to WiFi access for the public, press and lobbyists; better sound in the Senate’s public gallery; and extending the dais in two House committee rooms to accommodate more committee members. Another project that’s in the works won’t be ready for the upcoming session: The new 600-space parking garage that’s under construction north of the capitol won’t be available until the following year’s session.