Media Access in Legislatures

Media Access and Credentialing


A State-by-State Report

The issue of credentialing members of the media has been a topic of discussion in several states over the past year. With the demise of many newspapers across the country, bloggers and social journalists have filled the gaps or holes left by reporters who covered the statehouse as a beat.   NCSL has polled members of the Legislative Information and Communications (LINCS) staff section to see how each state credentials media and social journalists.

LINCS members were also provided the opportunity to add any thoughts/recommendations on how to provide media credentialing. The responses have been posted below. LINCS members work in both partisan and non-partisan offices in state legislatures across the country. LINCS members have various public information or media relations responsibilities, including public information officers, press secretaries, broadcast staff, writers, producers and civic education directors. If you would like to include your state's policy regarding media access and credentialing, please contact NCSL with further questions or concerns.

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Media Access and Credentialing

 State Media Access  Cameras  Credentials Blogger/Social Journalists Credentials  Comments
Alabama Constitution guarantees access to floors in both chambers; glassed-in press boxes provided.     Bloggers/social journalists from established news organizations are given access and floor privileges. Press boxes equipped with phones, internet access, audio feeds from both chambers.
Alaska Allowed on chamber floors with press pass; designated areas at rear of chamber. Allowed on chamber floors with press pass; photos taken only from perimeter aisles. Photo press passes prepared by Leg. Affairs Agency Exec. Dir. Ofc. staff upon receipt of approved Press Pass.   Alaska has detailed Capitol press rules in writing.  Press Pass applicants agree to comply with detailed Capitol Press rules.
Arizona Allowed in designated areas on floor while in session. Allowed in designated areas on floor while in session.     Only Representatives and invited guests are allowed on the main floor while the House is in session. Media must remain in designated areas.
Arkansas No access to floors; press gallery provided. The Arkansas Senate allows chamber access to print media. Still cameras allowed on floor with press pass; broadcast media must use press gallery. In the Senate, broadcast media and photographers must use the gallery. Press badges available from coordinator of Legislative Services. The Senate does not require reporters to wear badges. The Senate has no specific policy about bloggers or social journalists.
California Allowed on floors in designated press bays.   Credentials issued by info staff of each chamber; standards established by Capitol Press Corps Association.   No interviews allowed on floor while in session.
Colorado Any credentialed member of the media may sit on the the Senate floor. There is a press table and audio hookups to listen to the House.   All journalists on the House floor have to sign in with the chamber's segeants. Still and video cameras are allowed on the floor in specific areas, but no flashes are allowed.  Electronic media can use equipment during floor proceedings. However, they are restricted to certain area where they can set up. Credentials are approved by the Senate President and the Speaker in the House following a recommendation by the Colorado Capitol Press Association, issued by the Senate Secretary and the Chief Clerk of the House.    
Connecticut Credentialed members of the press have access to the chambers, floor, and gallery. Credentialed members of the press and designated caucus staff are allowed to film in chambers, on the floor or gallery. Press passes distributed via the Office of Legislative Management. Same credentialing process.  
Delaware Allowed on House floor in designated areas. Allowed on floor while in session. None.    
Hawaii Not allowed on floor; must use adjacent press boxes. Not allowed on floor; audio plugs provided in press boxes.      
Idaho Media access to House and Senate floors is allowed in designated area for credentialed media with badges. Still cameras with no flashes allowed. Broadcast media allowed in designated gallery area.  All broadcast media has access to Public Television feed. Issued by Idaho Capitol Correspondents Association a self policing organization. Bloggers can be credentialed if representing a legitimate, independent news organization.  
Illinois Not allowed on floors; must use press boxes. Not allowed on floors; TV must use designated part of gallery. Senate & House Operations provides ID security badges.   Permission from Chair and approval of chamber required for videotaping, audio recording, still photography.
Indiana Senate: allowed in back of room but not near member desks. House: statehouse press allowed at designated press desks; credentialed media allowed in media balconies. Senate: allows video cameras only in the back of the chamber. Still cameras are allowed on floor with a press pass. No still or video cameras are allowed in the gallery. House: Allowed on floor with press pass;video/photos taken from perimeter aisles during session. Senate : ID badges available from Dept. of Administration through Gov. Office. House: issued through the House. Bloggers/social journalists from established news organizations are given access.  
Iowa Allowed in chambers at designated press benches.   Handled by nonpartisan Secretary of Senate, Chief Clerk of House.    
Senate: Any floor pass is strictly “at the pleasure of” the Senate President, and the Sgt. At Arms has the authority to remove anyone not adhering to accepted practices. House: Allowed at the press bench with press passes. Senate: all reporters and cameras are restricted to the margins of the room. No reporters or cameras may approach a senator on the floor at their desk. House: Photos and video of the voting boards are strictly prohibited. Senate: those wanting floor passes must fill out an application and submit it to the Chief of Staff. House: must request a press pass before session on company letterhead or by email; then present picture ID in the speaker’s office to receive a pass. In the galleries, any member of the public or social media blogger is welcome. Liive streaming video or flash photography from the galleries is not permitted. If it's suspected that someone is taking zoom photos of a legislator or their desk, the individual will be removed from the gallery. 
Kentucky Designated press sections on floors of both chambers Cameras allowed in designated areas of House & Senate floors but are prohibited in both balconies. Legislative Information Office approves credentials.    
Louisiana Allowed at designated press tables.   Sergeants at Arms.   Credentialing used to be done by State Police.
Maryland All media allowed on floor in both chambers.   Standard press credentials required.    
Minnesota Allowed but must remain in back alcoves. TV cameras not allowed in alcoves; balcony area reserved for them. Credentials required; can be revoked if holder “does something wrong." Minnesota House credentials bloggers the same way as traditional media. Credentials have been revoked when reporter looked at papers on members’ desks; photographer shot members playing games on computers.
Mississippi Eight full-frontal seats in House chamber. Media restricted to that area during live sessions. Credentialed media photographers allowed to still shoot from along chamber walls and gallery above chamber; video cameras must shoot from galleries only. Handled by House PIO after his/her review. Currently do not credential any bloggers but reviewing situation. In addition to front row chamber seats, credentialed media has office in Capitol. It's a glassed-in area on top floor looking down upon the rest of the building.
Missouri Senate: Allowed in Senate Chamber at designated press table. Other media has access from public gallery.  Senate: Must make written request with the majority floor leader’s office. Allowed to shoot video or take photographs (without the use of a flash) once announced on the floor with no objection. Video and photos may be taken only from platform areas on each side of the dais.  Senate: Credentials are not issued by the Senate. Press table seating, capitol offices and parking spaces are governed by the Capitol Press Corps bylaws.
  Senate: Audio feeds are available at each seat at the press table located on the floor, as well as for video cameras located on the designated platforms. Reporters are allowed the use of laptops at the press table and have access to wireless Internet service. Reporters are not allowed to conduct interviews in the chamber while in session. Reporters, if on the floor, must adhere to Senate dress code. Extra ties and jackets are on hand.
Montana Allowed on floors of  both chambers. Allowed on floor in both chambers. Press pass required; issued by Dept. of Administration.   No criteria for issuance of press passes.
Nebraska Allowed on floor during session.     Administered by Clerk of Legislature.     Full-time Capitol media can get permanent credentials; others get temporary ones.
Nevada Not allowed on floor in either chamber; press room provided.   Press badges required to use press room.   Can go on floor during recess in Assembly, not in Senate.
New Hampshire Both chambers allow media access to floor while in session. Galleries also open to press coverage. Still and video cameras allowed with restrictions. Senate: still photogs only from near press table where reporters sit or in designated spot for video cameras. No shooting behind senators. House: still photogs limited to rear of chamber and half way down aisles. Video cameras on press riser.    Press passes not required except for special events. Issued by Senate or House communications director. Press passes not issued specifically to these individuals. Both chambers equipped with mult boxes on floor/gallery.  No interviews allowed on the floor of either chamber.   
New Jersey Allowed on the floor of both houses with a press pass; designated areas for press in the perimeter and rear of chambers. Still and video cameras allowed on the floor, must shoot from perimeter of member seating. Handled by New Jersey Press Association, in conjunction with New Jersey State Police. Not provided.  Bloggers have same access to proceedings as regular members of the public, through the legislative galleries. Dress code in the Senate requires reporters to wear jacket and tie.
New Mexico Media have access to a gallery overlooking each chamber floor. Cameras are allowed in the gallery. No credentials are required. No distinction is made for traditional vs. new media.  
New York State Assembly allows on floor. Cameras must shoot from gallery. Credentials given by statehouse press corps.    
North Carolina Journalists wanting access to the House and Senate chambers to be properly dressed: coat and tie for men and professional dress for women. Designated press area for filming.  Moving about the floor while filming is not permitted. N.C. Capitol Press Corps gives two types of credentials to reporters and photographers: permanent and temporary. Credentials given by statehouse press corps. Photographers are also welcome to film from the gallery.
Ohio Representatives of the press who are members of the Legislative Correspondents' Association are entitled to the privilege of the floor of the House, but shall notify the Speaker or presiding officer prior to exercising the privilege. Representatives of radio and television stations and broadcasting networks who are members of the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association are entitled to the privilege of the floor of the House, but shall notify the Speaker prior to exercising the privilege. Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association has certain criteria for being members of the Statehouse news bureau with access to the House floor.  If someone wants one-day credential for special events, the House Clerk works with the press room.  If they have a photo ID from a newspaper, radio or TV group, the House Clerk’s office gives them credentials.    
Oklahoma Media Access in both the House and Senate are glassed in press areas at the back of each chamber. No floor access is allowed. Cameras have their own glassed in area in both chambers. In both the House and Senate there are three separate glassed-in areas, one for print media, one for radio, and one for television. There is no credentialing required, but press corps members oversee.   Both the House and Senate are equipped with wireless internet accessible for free by the press.
Oregon Desk provided on floor against side wall.   Credentialing is handled by statehouse press corps. Credentials given by statehouse press corps.  
Pennsylvania Small press row provided at back of chamber; also speaker system in capitol newsroom.   Credentials required.    
Rhode Island Media allowed on floors. Allowed on floors. None required.   House has restricted access, Senate policy is more open.
South Dakota Limited to a media area at one corner of the Floor, when the Legislature is in Session. Cameras are allowed more latitude on the floor, but cannot interfere with the Legislature's work. Provide a press badge. To the extent bloggers can show that they have a news outlet on the web, they will be credentialed.  
Tennessee   Reporters not allowed on House floor during session. Constitution guarantees access to both chambers; glassed in press boxes provides. Cameras can set up next to floor. ID badges issued by Legislative Administration.  Must be from establision news organizations.   Reporters not allowed to conduct interviews during session.
Texas Allowed on House and Senate floors during session but only "outside the rails." Allowed on House and Senate floors during session but only "outside the rails". Credentials required. No credentials offered unless blog is operated by traditional news outlet. Seating for media available in the press area with audio feed and wi fi available in the Capitol; dress code in House rules must be observed and no interviews allowed on the floor during session. 
Utah News media representatives, with Senate press credentials, shall be admitted to the Senate chamber, halls, lounge, and committee rooms.  With permission, the news media may conduct and record interviews in the Senate lounge.  They may also film and record interviews in the halls or available committee rooms.   Social journalists are allowed the same privileges if they are given credentials. The constitution does not guarantee access to the floors; however, glassed-in press boxes are provided in the Senate gallery.  These press boxes are on a first-come-first-served basis and are equipped with internet access and audio feeds.  Photos can only be taken from perimeter aisles.
Virginia Allowed to sit at designated tables on floors.   Credentialing handled by Capitol Press Corps Association.    
Washington Allowed to sit at designated tables on floors.   Credentialing handled by Capitol Press Corps Association. Credentialing handled by Press Corps Association. Reporters not allowed to wander on floors.
West Virginia Members of “official” news organizations allowed at designated press table on floor.   Speaker appoints media committee to approve credentialing.      
Wyoming Media tables available on floors of both chambers on first-come, first-served basis. Photographers and videographers have access to side chamber doors. Legislative Info Office issues media credentials. Social journalists who are employed by a commercial or non-profit news outlet providing non-partisan online news services are given credentials.  

Sources: NCSL; members of the Legislative Information and Communications (LINCS) Staff Section; TN Media Access to State Legislatures, 2007.

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