Interested in a Texas legislative committee hearing, or floor debate on a specific bill? You don’t have to travel to Austin to watch the process at work.
Thanks to the Internet, anyone can watch livestreamed committee hearings, press conferences and floor debate in the Texas House or the Texas Senate from the comfort of their home or on-the-go. Some Spectrum customers in the Austin area can tune in to Texas House and Senate proceedings via cable television, while subscribers in the Austin and San Antonio markets can tune into Capital Tonight, a 30-minute daily political show that focuses on issues that impact Texans’ lives.
Online communication also helps Texans stay connected with their elected officials, from email to social media. Many state legislators have Twitter accounts.
A recent Washington Post article recognized the role that the Internet is playing in civic involvement, noting that more than 135,000 people tuned in to audio-only proceedings on YouTube to listen to a federal appeals court deliberate over President Trump’s immigrant entry ban. Others were watching the proceedings livestream on Facebook and other sources.
And how about the 1,600-mile, 30-plus hour “bipartisan road trip” that two Texas congressman took in March, driving from San Antonio to Washington, D.C. Almost the entire trip was livestreamed on Facebook Live and Periscope, and U.S. Reps Beto O’Rourke and Will Hurd took viewer questions and debated policy during what they billed “a live cross-country, bipartisan congressional town hall.” The two-day online drive drew tens of thousands of viewers and hundreds of comments.
“That showed the power of social media, of livestreaming an event,” said one political scientist. “It gave people a view of Congress we’ve never really seen before.”
As the Washington Post article stated, “in today’s digitally connected world, the best technologies make accessible what was previously inaccessible.”