State Capitol

Missed a public hearing at the state Capitol, but want to know what happened? Next year it’s going to be easier to find out.

Legislative leaders have decided to once again have transcripts produced for every public hearing that takes place during the 2019 legislative session.

It’s a service that had been available for years, but was discontinued in 2018 as legislative leaders looked to shave spending.

The monetary cost was $177,000 in 2017.

But the political cost was huge, as open-government advocates and lobbyists, attorneys, and others who rely on the transcripts to better understand legislative intent campaigned to push leaders to reconsider.

Earlier this month, legislative leaders from both parties did.

“When the leaders and chief of staffs were talking, they decided that it was a service that needed to be resurrected,” said Larry Perosino, a spokesman for House Democrats, said during an interview. “When the cuts were made we heard some feedback as to why it was a helpful service to follow what was going on.”

Transcripts will be produced for all the same legislative events as 2017, he said.

The elimination of transcripts came as the legislature also cut funding for the state’s public affairs network, CT-N. The legislature recently resumed its relationship with CPAN, the non-profit operator of CT-N.

Gavel-to-gavel coverage of House and Senate sessions by CT-N will continue, as will more broadcasting of selected public hearings, press conferences and political events.

“It’s going to be done within the resources we have – which is less than the contract we had before,” Perosino said. “It’s not going to be as expansive as it was before. You will get the core programming.”

The new contract provides annual funding of $1.8 million for CT-N, down from $2.7 million before the old contract lapsed.

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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