*** CAPITOL UPDATE ***
State Affairs Committee Takes Up Social Media
AUSTIN — Two weeks ago, the Senate State Affairs Committee met in the Senate chamber to discuss how digital and social media can make your state legislature more open and transparent.
Government transparency is the most important tool citizens have to hold legislators accountable, and as the way we communicate continues to evolve, I want to keep my constituents informed about how advances in technology affect how they may interact with government agencies.
The most notable of these advances is the use of social media. Because sites like Twitter and Facebook create a direct channel between legislators and their constituents, they have increased the efficiency of communication and become a valuable tool for getting quick feedback from the public. However, the openness of social and digital media brings with it a lot of questions.
The Public Information Act requires all official communication by elected officials to be accessible by a citizen upon request. In the past, this has applied to letters, memos, meeting minutes, e-mails, etc., but how about text messages, Facebook status updates, and tweets? Should legislators keep official social media pages separate from their campaign sites?
We discussed those questions with technology and legal experts from across the state and heard a lot of interesting testimony. We learned about electronic communication and social media, but primarily, we learned that those questions have no real answers. As digital media continues to grow, questions and concerns over privacy will increase -- but hopefully transparency will too.
As many of you are aware, this Monday, May 31, is Memorial Day. I hope you'll keep our troops in your prayers this weekend and remember those who have given their lives for our country. If you or someone you know is active or retired military, I'd like to thank you for the sacrifices you make every day for the freedoms we enjoy.
To contact Sen. Deuell about the legislative process, contact the Capitol Office at (512) 463-0102 or mail to Sen. Bob Deuell, Texas Senate, P.O. Box 12068, Austin, TX 78711. The website for the Texas Senate is www.senate.state.tx.us. The e-mail address for Sen. Deuell is: firstname.lastname@example.org.