Local governments prepare for new streaming law

·3 min read

May 24—Governments in Indiana will be opening up their meetings to the internet under a new law approved by the Indiana General Assembly.

Earlier this month, Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law a bill that requires cities, towns, counties and other government agencies that spend tax dollars to stream all of their meetings on the internet and keep a 90-day archive of those meetings.

"It's really just trying to get more transparency in government," said Republican State Representative Shane Lindauer of Jasper. "If people want to get online and watch the meetings, they can. That's the goal behind it. Just for better accountability, essentially."

The bill passed out of the house with overwhelming majorities, but Lindauer was one of a handful of law makers who voted against it.

"I voted against the first version. We have a number of really small towns where having those services available is not easy. Not everyone has a tech guru in their town council," said Lindauer. "It looks good and sounds good on paper, but for a lot of these really small cities and towns it is an onerous ask."

Many places already stream meetings. The law will have little impact on them. The Daviess County Council and Commissioners meetings are already streamed on line. So are the Loogootee City Council meetings.

The meetings for the Washington City Council have been streamed most of the time through the efforts of a Washington High School student. That student though will no longer be available to stream the meetings.

"We have had a student from the high school come in and record the meetings and put them online, but that was not done at every meeting," said Washington Clerk-Treasurer Beth McGookey. "We do not have the equipment in there. I have talked with our IT guy and we are considering some of the ways we could work it out. We will also have some talks about this with the mayor and council."

Some of the smaller communities like Montgomery have never streamed one of their meetings. The law will put them in a new area, but one they feel they should be able to handle.

"We will probably talk about it at our meeting in June," said Montgomery Town Board member Mike Healy. "Craig Knepp is on our board. He is about as high tech as we have got. He works for RTC and we'll probably put it to him to figure it out."

Perhaps the best news for those that will be adding a stream of their meetings is that they will have some time to figure it out. The law will go into effect July 1, 2025.

The law says that those communities that are not in compliance by that date will be in violation of the state's open door law and subject to fines.

It also has a caveat that the agencies will not be punished if there is a technical glitch that is beyond their control.