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has been given the opportunity to hold his or her representatives accountable for their stewardships of the power to make laws.
You do not need me to tell you that Government in general and some of its institutions in particular are held in low esteem by the American people. Opening the halls of Congress to television coverage can help reverse this situation.
I would urge you to consider the possible reward of such coverage. Not only would you promote a better awareness of Congress as an institution; not only would you establish a platform which would increase the effectiveness of your communication with the American people; but you will probably find that TV coverage will bring about some reforms which will actually improve the law. making process. Your substance, your effectiveness, your image can only improve
In Connecticut, I think we can point to some real positive reforms that were brought about at least in part by our coverage.
I will leave it to the distinguished members of our Legislature here today to comment further on that. Thank you.
Chairman METCALF. Mr. Ogle, we are pleased to have you as the anchorman.
DAVID B. OGLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JOINT COMMITTEE ON LEGISLATIVE MANAGEMENT, CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY
David B. Ogle, the chief administrative officer and staff director for the Connecticut State Legislature, assumed that position in January, 1970. From 1966 to 1968 he served as a research analyst for the Majority Leader of the New York State Senate. A graduate of the College of Wooster (Ohio), he received a Master's degree in political science from Rutgers University in 1966. Mr. Ogle has served as a special consultant to three state legislatures and has authored books on the subject of strengthening state legislatures.
Mr. OGLE. Over the past several years, I have had opportunities for association with several of our State legislatures in either a staff or a consultant capacity. One of the conclusions that I have drawn from Uis experience is that the television media has tremendous potential as a tool for increasing public awareness and public understanding of the accomplishments, activities, and problems of its elected representatives.
In its 1971 study that ranked the 50 State legislatures on their potential for effective performance, the Citizens Conference on State legislatures concluded that “No single step is likely to do more in the short run, both to raise the level of legislative performance and to make citizens more acutely aware that their legislature does matter in their lives, than live coverage of important hearings and floor debates."
My experience in Connecticut over the past 4 years convinces me of the validity of this statement. During this period, we have taken many steps in the direction of upgrading the quality of the Connecticut General Assembly: Such things as the development of a full-time professional staff, a restructuring of our committee system, extensive ont-of-session work, more equitable compensation, and the elimination of executive session committee meetings. As a result of these actions, we now have a legislature that is far better equipped to deal with the problems that face our State. And our legislators are much better informed and more able to attempt to develop solutions to these problems.
But none of these structural improvements have contributed in any significant way toward bringing our State legislature any closer to the
people. This has been accomplished through Connecticut Public Television's extensive live coverage of our legislature's activities. As a result of this coverage, the people of Connecticut are unquestionably more aware than ever before of their legislature as an institution and of their individual representatives as people.
It is quite apparent to me that television has helped to humanize our legislature. It brings the people of Connecticut right into the senate and house chambers. And the senate and house chambers are brought right into the people's living rooms. Citizens see their legislators as real live persons-faces that they can remember when they read stories about those legislators in the newspaper. And of course, our individual legislators generally approve of such coverage, for with it there in no middleman interpreting their statements for their constituents.
It is not an unreasonable assumption that public confidence in a legislative body should increase in roughly direct proportion to the degree of awareness that its constituents have of its members and of their activities. And public confidence is, of course, an important ingredient in the effective performance of any legislative body. This is not to imply that the level of public confidence in the Connecticut General Assembly is far out of line with the public confidence levels of other legislative bodies at the State or national level. I am only saving that I feel it to be significantly higher than it would be if Connecticut Public Television did not provide such extensive live coverage of our legislative hearings and floor proceedings.
I do not have any statistics or polls to support this belief. It is just an impression that I have drawn from observing, listening, and talking to people in various parts of our State over the past 4 years. On the national level, there are recent polls that seem to demonstrate most graphically the role that television can play in creating greater public confidence in government through greater familiarity with its participants. A Gallup poll last fall showed that the seven members of the Senate Watergate Committee had individual positive ratings of between 68 and 84 percent. This contrasts sharply with recent polling results in which the public was asked to rate the legislative branch of government as a whole.
In short, our experience in Connecticut appears to demonstrate that live television coverage of legislative proceedings and activities can make a major contribution toward increasing public awareness of, and therefore public confidence in, the legislative branch of government.
Chairman METCALF. Thank you very much, Mr. Ogle.
Certainly, Senator Weicker from Connecticut is not unknown to the people all over the United States as a result of television coverage.
Congressman Cleveland ?
Representative CLEVELAND. Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend this particular panel, as they have given us some most constructive information.
In fact, they have actually given us as much hard information as all of the previous panelists, and they have shown us what actually happened in a real situation.
There will probably be some technical questions, about where the cameras were placed, and so forth, but because of the time limitations, I will not go into that at any great length.
Representative CLEVELAND. Maybe that is why we are having so
realize we still have some witnesses who have a plane problem, so rill be short. I would agree with my colleague in thanking you very much for ning. This is very helpful to us. I would hope, Mr. Chairman, that some stage of the game, it might be possible for us to have made uilable to us this kind of a tape, because I can visualize the tape ich has been shown to us, being shown here among some of our leagues, and I would hope if that is possible, to arrange for it.
et me ask just a couple of questions. Chairman METCALF. The witness was nodding, and he said yes, so
will follow through, and see that the tape is available. Mr. TAFF. Would you like to keep that one? Chairman METCALF. Yes. Senator Rome. It will save considerable mailing costs under the V rates. Chairman METCALF. We will frank it back to you. Representative DELLENBACK. This is reverse revenue sharing. Mr. Taff's testimony, he made reference to the fact that the 1973 sion, the new assembly rules permitted coverage of committee etings. New formats were created, and so forth. Has there been a great deal of coverage of committee meetings? Mr. TAFF. It is increasing. We attempt to decide which committee etings would be of interest to the State. Several hearings have been Id in a situation that permitted phone-in by people anywhere in the ate to the committee members, which by the way was in the editorial
introduced. They commented on that as being something that New York State d others should take a look at. Representative DELLENBACK. As one who feels very strongly about ening up meetings, and the reason I was pushing on this question, nator Rome, is that I feel strongly that is the way it ought to be. There have to be a few issues that are decided in privacy. Some of feel that is not necessarily so, and you again back up that idea. You can open up the whole procedures, and once you have the rule t, and once it is understood that it will be, it will function perfectly -11, and I think televising of the committee proceedings would be ry helpful. I like the idea that control cannot be among the political figures, cause if we start to determine what is going to be televised, what ommittees will be televised, what proceedings will be televised, we ut this thing on an entirely different basis, so your testimony about ecisionmaking being in the hands of the broadcasting personnel, I eartily applaud. It seems to me that is the way it must be, and I am pleased with our statement Mr. Taff, about never to your knowledge has any political figure attempted to influence the journalistic judgment, that is a fine statement, that is very encouraging, I am delighted to hear
Mr. TAFF. It is a fact, to my knowledge, that nobody has ever been contacted. Obviously, I was not at any time. If I had been, I would have refused the request.
Representative DELLENBACK. I will withdraw further questions, at this time, but there may be some additional ones.
I would like to get some statistics about costs, and if I might ask unanimous consent to also submit written interrogatories to the witnesses, and get answers, that will be helpful.
I close by merely saying I am persuaded, and we have been taking the stand with other witnesses up here before us, that if we once opened up this thing, we will find the kind of change which is beneficial.
I do not think there are grave weaknesses in the legislative processes in my State or in the Federal process, but I think we can do some shaping up, and I am persuaded that everybody will benefit; the public will benefit, our process will benefit in just every way.
We are grateful to you for your time.
Chairman METCALF. We are grateful to you all, to you, Senator Rome, to your colleagues, your companions, and I am sorry that I have to go over to vote on the minimum wage bill.
We have demonstrated here that we are truly a group of people who have different ideas, but we have learned to accommodate those ideas, and I think that everyone of us is proud of Congress as an institution.
You are talking to three former State legislators, and I think one of the great experiences of each of our lives is the fact we did serve in the legislature, and did undergo some of the travails and gained experience.
The State legislature is a special sort of thing, of course, with differences between that and the Congress. It is easier I think to cover the State legislatures, at least in Montana you are all gathered on the floor, and your desk is your office, and things of that sort, whereas we here are scattered all over the top of Capitol Hill, but nevertheless, the experience that you gain, and the description of that experience, Sen. ator Rome, and your colleagues, has certainly helped us to understand and broaden some of the policies that we have, and I am delighted that you are here, we are honored to have you come down here and tell us about that, and I congratulate you on your legislative activities in Connecticut.
You pioneered some of those things, and perhaps we can follow your lead.
Senator ROME. Thank you very much.
Chairman METCALF. Senator Chiles, one of the very distinguished members of this committee has been a leader of congressional reform since he came to the Senate. Every time we try to open up a committee meeting, and have an executive session in public, Senator Chiles stands up and talks about the Sunshine State, and he talks about the sunshine rule which has been adopted in the Florida Legislature. Today he is over in the Senate offering amendments, such as the one he placed on the minimum wage bill. Otherwise he would have been here. But I am delighted on his behalf and on the committee's behalf to welcome the representatives from Florida to tell us how you opened up the Florida Legislature.