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New site offers video archives, transcripts of legislative actions

A new website and effort by the League of Women Voters of Alabama is capturing and archiving the live stream broadcasts of the Alabama Legislature’s House, Senate and committee meetings, giving the public after-the-fact viewing access.

The site,, will also have searchable transcripts of recordings, allowing people to look up discussions on specific topics.

“No matter what issues people care about, they should know what their legislators are saying about them,” said Tara Bailey, director of The Alabama Channel. 

Bailey spearheaded the idea for a video archive as a way to help more people connect with what lawmakers are doing in Montgomery. 

The site will also making sharing clips of discussions and debates easy on social media, other websites or via email. 

“We realized that the only way people are really going to know what’s happening in Montgomery, besides reading about it in news reports, is to watch it themselves,” Kathy Jones, president of the league, said. 

According to the league, Alabama is one of about four states that doesn’t archive legislative videos for the public. Bailey looked at what other states were doing for video storage and access. The Alabama Channel uses software from Open Media Foundation, a Denver-based nonprofit.

The site will capture the live streams from the Legislature’s website. Currently, meetings of the House and Senate and many committee meetings are live streamed on the Legislature’s site. COVID-19-related changes did increase the number of committee rooms that have live streaming capabilities, but not every committee room and meeting is broadcast.

Jones said in the future, the League may try to record more meetings.

Secretary of Senate Pat Harris on Monday told Alabama Daily News the Legislature doesn’t archive its live streams in part because of server space limitations. He said that while anyone is welcome to the live streams, The Alabama Channel is not official state record. Those are kept in journals certified by Harris and the clerk of the House.

He said other groups have recorded and broadcast meetings in the past.

“We do not want to close anyone off, but (The Alabama Channel) is not a function that the Legislature has endorsed or certifies as being true and correct,” he said.

Harris said he is concerned that the transcriptions may be inaccurate at times.

“Transcriptions of southern accents are not always the best,” Harris said.

The site includes disclaimers: It’s not affiliated with the Legislature and transcriptions may not be 100% accurate.

The site can also be a tool for lawmakers, Bailey said. If the Senate is going to vote on a bill that’s already been debated in the House, senators could look back on committee and House floor discussions of the legislation.

The site captured the organization session earlier this month. The regular legislative session starts March 7.

“We hope it transforms civic engagement for Alabama,” Jones said. 

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