SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A bizarre scene at the Roundhouse as state senators decided the public did not have a right to see what was happening in a very public meeting. Our camera captured it all because our reporter, who is trying to keep you informed of what is going on in the legislature, was the target of their bizarre behavior.
There were some interesting bills in the Senate Conservation Committee, but you won’t hear about them because KRQE News 13 was told to leave.
“Excuse me, excuse me madam chair, I don’t mean to interrupt but there’s someone filming and I was wondering if you’ve gotten permission or if you’d like to request permission,” said Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez in the video.
The senator is referring to KRQE News 13’s camera, which was recording A discussion on a hazardous waste bill.
“I figured, it was a public meeting,” said KRQE News 13’s Rachel Knapp in the video.
After Knapp identified herself, Republican Sen. Pat Woods announced he had a problem with our camera rolling.
“There’s adequate ways this footage can be gotten in other ways,” said Sen. Woods. “I just prefer this not to be spliced and edited to be used against someone and have someone not be totally truthful in their comments in a bill because they’re worried how something might be splashed and cut in a newscast.”
And seconds later, Sen. Sedillo Lopez said this:
“Okay, I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
These are public meetings and are also streamed through a webcast, but apparently, in senate committee meetings there is a rule blocking full transparency stating in short, people have to get permission to take a photo, video or audio recording of the committee. Something KRQE News 13 has never seen enforced.
There’s a sign outside of that committee room clearly states, ‘Does not apply to the news media.’
One senator wants to scrap the rule altogether. Days ago, he filed a resolution after seeing people get kicked out for simply taking a photo.
“They’re public meetings and people have reasons for wanting to capture our proceedings,” said Sen. Jeff Steinborn. “They’re completely valid in the public interest and I think they’re right.”
After the incident, Sen. Woods apologized but stuck to his guns, saying Knapp should’ve asked permission.
Senators Joseph Cervantes and William Soules, who were on that committee, followed Knapp after she was kicked out and said they were upset about the way this was handled.
The senate resolution allowing cameras in any committee meeting has been filed but has not been heard in any committees yet.
After this story aired, the signs that referred to the news media have the right to video and photograph inside the committees was taken down.