Transparency Caucus urges open government

By Kyle Taylor
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Two first-term legislators, a Republican and a Democrat, announced the formation of a new bipartisan caucus Monday, one targeted to make the Virginia General Assembly more accessible to the public.

The Virginia Transparency Caucus is the brainchild of Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, and Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Midlothian. They want their colleagues to follow their lead in giving the public access to what happens in legislative committees and subcommittees.

“We have agreed to videotape the entire proceedings for every one of our bills – subcommittees and committees. Our constituents have a right to know what happened with our bills,” Levine said. “To become a member of the Transparency Caucus, you just have to agree to commit to make public your votes in subcommittee and committee hearings.”

Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, supports the new caucus. “We’re very proud to continue in that tradition and push for more transparency in the House and throughout the General Assembly.”

At the press conference, Chase voiced her opinion on the Senate rule change that moved the media from the chamber’s floor to the upper gallery, away from lawmakers.

“I don’t have a problem with the press being there on the floor, personally,” she said.

Chase indicated that the policy might be changed.

“There is a discussion going on in (the Republican) caucus right now that is private and confidential,” Chase said. “There are a number of grassroots senators who are OK with the press being on the floor, but we want to have a united front.”

Levine has already made moves to have his staff videotape the subcommittee and committee proceedings involving his bills.

“We’re just doing my bills. If other people want to videotape their bills, that’s completely up to them. Amanda and I obviously encourage them to do that. We want them to join this standard and do that … but we’re not going to presume to tape other people’s bills,” Levine said.

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