House committees banning live streaming by members

Republican members vote during a House GOP caucus meeting in Nashville on Nov. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

As reported by The Tennessean’s Joel Ebert and Natalie Allison, live streaming of legislative proceedings by members is being banned in several House committees.

House Speaker Glen Casada’s office says he’s leaving the decision up to the chairs of each committee, but the policy will also extend to the House floor — and to the visitors in the gallery.

“The chairmen that are choosing to do this are choosing to do so in order to make the legislative process run more smoothly both for themselves and for the public,” Casada’s Chief of Staff Cade Cothren told the newspaper.

Commerce Chairman Timothy Hill (R-Blountville) said he was imposing the policy because he didn’t want committee members to be distracted by a colleague using social media to “prove a point.” Some members last year used social media to try to intimidate others, he said.

The change comes after a rule change pushed by Casada to eliminate speechifying on the House floor. The House Republican Caucus, which has enough members to decide new laws without the input of a single Democrat,  has also decided to close its caucus meetings to the public.

UPDATE: Statement from Casada’s Chief of Staff Cade Cothren:

House session and committee hearings are and will continue to be shown on the General Assembly’s website and on public television stations across the state. If someone actively violates House policy by disrupting the legislative process — through unruly live-streaming, blatant disregard for decorum, or disrespect of members or the public — they will be removed from the area. Legislators, stakeholders, and those visiting to see government in action must be allowed to do work and enjoy their time without unneeded and senseless disruption. Speaker Casada fully supports his chairmen in their decisions to run their committees as they best see fit.


26 Responses to House committees banning live streaming by members

  • James White says:

    Yeah, they want to keep the visitors from streaming because they want a more open government.

  • June landrum says:

    Shame on you. The public needs to know what is going on in Nashville. Please do not do this.

    • Sandy Moore says:

      I agree. It’s the way many people stay informed about what our government is doing. Why would you hinder that resource?

  • Norma Shirk says:

    So much for open records laws. What a travesty of democracy.

  • Not Stuart Anderson says:

    Tryranny of the super-majority.

  • Phil Lassiter says:

    This is a very serious violation of free speech. Not allowing a legislator to speak openly on the House floor is a fundamental pillar of a Republic. This is a VERY SERIOUS infringement on the very people who sent someone to represent them.

  • Cathy Rhodes says:

    Wow — what do they need to hide so badly? Clearly — something. The super majority is a travesty of democracy.

  • Linda McCarty says:

    Surely Library and Archives will be filming for all the public to view actions in committees and in the chambers!!

  • June landrum says:

    Listen to sandy moore

  • MarLE says:

    So…. limits on video recording “by members”. Is this currently the only source of public access to legislative proceedings~ the cell phone video taken by members? Surely not! This post seems like something the * would print. And that is not a compliment, btw.

  • James White says:

    How will they tell if a visitor is live streaming -vs- recording ?

  • David Collins says:

    I don’t think a court of law would uphold the obvious overreach of this rule. Granted, each house is entitled to make the rules for their respective chambers, but that authority has always been construed as rules governing, for example, the notice required to bring a bill up, limits on how long [not if] a member may speak for or against a bill, etc. I don’t think the law or constitutions would allow for a legislative body to tell a private citizen he or she could not video a session or committee meeting. Restrictions such as this are a first step in the direction of a police state. Open government is the absolute bedrock of a democracy. The videoing of a session of a committee or either house of the legislature would not disrupt the business of the body being videoed. What about the media?

  • Misty Pardner says:

    Casada is unwittingly plotting the course for the end of the Republican majority. He will see this but swear off it’s veracity. Curcio, VanHuss, and the Hill Brothers personal ambition will foster the fall of the House. Archive this comment, if Casada is Speaker beyond 2020, the Republican majority will be lost by 2028.

  • Donna Locke says:

    Well, regardless of how this goes, context is everything. Have we had any lessons in that lately anywhere?

  • James White says:

    They should take a clue from Gov. Lee:
    Executive Order 3 mandates openness, transparency and accountability within the executive branch. Employees will be required to attend training within the next 120 days to ensure legal requirements relating to the following are met: open meetings, open records, and applicable ethics and disclosure rules. This order requires that training to happen on a specific timetable (within 120 days), while also mandating additional, recurring training.

  • FuzzyBagels says:

    Folks, PLEASE re-read the first paragraph.

    The rule against livestreaming applies to House members only. ALL official proceedings are recorded as an official record of the Tennessee General Assembly and available on the website ,

    Both bodies of the Tennessee General Assembly are free to set their own rules, which, by the way, are voted on by the full body, in other words Republicans and Democrats alike.

    The rule will have Representatives (House members) focused on their job not social media, meanwhile not causing a disruption during official meetings.

    Visitors, on the other hand, are free to livestream. Livestreaming shouldn’t disrupt other visitors or the course of business.

    The activities of the Tennessee General Assembly impacts the lives of all 6.5 million Tennesseans – in other words, serious business. Promoting oneself via livestream on social media doesn’t fit into that category.

    Most of the coverage on the topic is a misunderstanding.

  • Donna Locke says:

    Who wouldn’t like to be a fly on the wall with a smart phone in a pre-meeting of a committee?

  • James White says:

    ” but the policy will also extend to the House floor — and to the visitors in the gallery.”

  • Misty Pardner says:

    An aside to this story. TNJ is failing in its mission. It is no longer a reliable and up to date local political news source.

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