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House Speaker Steve Harshman, R-Casper, smiles during the opening day of the 65th Wyoming Legislature’s 40-day general session on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, at the Jonah Business Center in Cheyenne. Jacob Byk/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – If you wanted to watch one of the state Legislature’s committee meetings in Cheyenne last month but couldn’t make it to the Capital City, you were out of luck.

Committees covering everything from education to health care met in Cheyenne locations in November, but none of them were streamed for others around the state to tune in.

During the 2018 legislative session, the Management Council approved a program to stream 20 legislative committee meetings during the interim session.

At a Management Council meeting Monday afternoon, one message was clear: it will take more funding and manpower to stream every single committee meeting during the time between legislative sessions.

The Wyoming Department of Enterprise Technology Services and WyomingPBS split the duties to stream the meetings through YouTube, with each handling the duties for 10 of the interim committee meetings.

“They both are happy with their current staffing level doing 10 of those,” Legislative Service Office Director Matt Obrecht said during the meeting. “Any more than that, they feel would require additional staff on their part.”

Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, said the Management Council will have to decide what it wants to do moving forward, noting the program’s popularity so far.

“If we did them all in Cheyenne, it’d be a piece of cake, but we’re going to have to figure that out as we go forward,” Harshman said. “It might cost us a little more to do more.”

The initial program to stream 20 meetings had a budget of about $9,000, of which the state only spent about $4,200 in 2018, according to previous Tribune Eagle reporting.

When asked by Harshman for a cost estimate to expand the program to stream 40 meetings, Obrecht said he was unsure.

He noted meetings at the newly renovated state Capitol and at a new state office building in Casper will have livestreaming capabilities, allowing more resources to stream in other parts of the state.

“These 20 meetings that we have now will go further in Riverton, Gillette, Rock Springs and Cody than they are today, while we’re streaming meetings here and in Casper,” Obrecht said.

Obrecht also cautioned the Management Council that by increasing the number of livestreamed meetings, the number of potential locations for meetings would be limited.

It’s unclear whether the Legislature will consider an expansion of the streaming program during the 2020 budget session, which begins in February.

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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