Media Access and Credentialing

4/9/2019

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.

The box allows you to conduct a full text search or ty;e the state name.

Media Access and Credentialing

State Media Access Cameras Credentials Blogger/Social Journalists Credentials Additional Information
Alabama Constitution guarantees access to floors in both chambers. Glassed-in press boxes with audio jacks and speakers are provided at the rear of both House and Senate chambers for reporters, videographers, and photographers to cover proceedings.   Once the House has adjourned for the day, reporters, videographers, and photographers are allowed access to the floor.
 
Videographers and photographers are allowed to set up on the House floor but only at specific locations in the rear of the chamber. Electronic, print, and online reporters, videographers, and photographers are required to provide a letter on company letterhead confirming their employment and request to cover the Alabama Legislature. The legislative press pass gives access to both the House and Senate chambers. 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 House floor; press gallery provided. Press may sit on the floor of the Senate during session. In both chambers, broadcast media and photographers must use the gallery. Credentialed photographers provided limited access to House floor. House coordinator of Legislative Services provides badges authorizing limited access to photographers on House floor. The Senate does not require reporters to wear badges. Bloggers/social journalists do not have a place on the floor. They would get everything from the live-streaming or from viewing from galleries. The Senate started live-streaming all committees and floor sessions in 2019. The House began streaming all floor sessions and most House committee meetings in 2010.
California Credentialed media are permitted access to legislative chambers during floor session and committee rooms during committee hearings.  Cameras operated by credential media are permitted access to the Assembly or Senate floor during session and committee rooms during committee hearings. Permanent media credentials are approved by the Capitol Correspondents Association of California, the organized body of the Capitol press corps. Visiting press can be issued a daily media pass by either the Assembly or Senate press offices. They are subject to the same credential application process outlined under, “Credentials.”  
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 The media is allowed on the floor of the House in designated areas. In the Senate the media is allowed on the floor behind a rail that separates the members from invited guest, staff, and media. 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 Credentialed media allowed on floor in designated press areas. The House permits still and video cameras for credentialed media in designated areas, or other areas with special permission. The Senate permits personal recording devices, including still and video cameras, during live sessions for credentialed media in designated areas with permission of the President Pro Tempore. Media can apply for full or daily credentials via Legislative Hall Media Credentialing Policy. Passes issued by credentialing committee: communications staff of all four party caucuses and a senior member of the press corps.  Can be credentialed if they meet criteria in Media Credentialing Policy. Otherwise, they can cover proceedings from public galleries. Media credentialing policy.
Georgia Senate: Credentialed members of the media are allowed access to the press galleries – which are designated areas on the Senate floor. No interviews are to be conducted on the Senate floor and Senate Press Office Staff are available to ask senators if they are interested in being interviewed, as media access is restricted to the back press area. 

House: Media Credentials are required for access to the House Chamber and press galleries. Credentialed members of the media are allowed access to House Chamber floor for the purpose of locating a member to request an interview or to take photo or video clip. No interviews are to be conducted on the House floor.
Senate: Cameras are allowed on the floor when the Senate is in session but only for b-roll footage. No interviews can be conducted on the floor during session. Photographers are allowed on the Senate floor in designed areas. All photographers, even photographers with special guests, have to be credentialed to take photos on the floor. We discourage the use of cell phones for pictures as well.

House: Cameras are allowed on House chamber floor with media credential; cameras allowed in designated areas along perimeter of the House Chamber; no flash photography; no photos or videos of member desks; tripods not allowed on House floor.
Senate: Credentialing information for the Senate can be found here: http://www.senate.ga.gov/spo/en-US/credentials.aspx

House: Eligible members of the media can apply for permanent or temporary credentials from the House here:
http://www.house.ga.gov/mediaServices/en-US/credentials.aspx
 
Neither the Senate nor the House credentials bloggers. House and Senate credential members of the media separately.  Limited number of credentials allowed per media organization. Information on House media credentials, House Chamber media access, media decorum and media rules can be found here: http://www.house.ga.gov/mediaServices/en-US/MediaCredentials.aspx
 
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 The media is not allowed on the Senate or House floor during session. Credentialed reporters can occupy press boxes on the House and Senate floor during session. In the House, they can ask pages to ask a member to come down to the box to answer questions. Still photographers are allowed to work from the press boxes. TV crews are asked to work from the galleries; the space is prewired for audio. In the House they do not need to seek permission. Senate rules are a little different. Senate & House Operations provides ID security badges.   Requests to film in the Senate can be submitted to the Senate sergeant-at-arms, the assistant sergeant or one of the doormen.   Senate Media Guidelines
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 and Chief Clerk of House. The House Rules grant access to the floor of the House to "representatives of the press, radio, and television."    
Kansas 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 Credentialed media is allowed on the floor of both chambers. They must follow the rules of decorum and stay in designated areas on the side of the chambers and space is limited. Space is available first come first serve and cannot be reserved or saved. They are not allowed to move around the chamber nor can they approach any legislator or their desk.  Violations can result in a reprimand by the Sgt at Arms or loss of their media pass.  The Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate have control of the chambers and can request to have anyone (including media) removed. They must be silent and no phone usage, talking, monologues, or verbal commentary is allowed during the floor session.  Credentialed Media can have cameras and/or tripods in designated areas. Any placement is approved by that chamber's Sgt at Arms prior to the beginning of the floor session. No flash photography is allowed because of possible distraction to our legislators and for the safety of our Charlie Russell painting.  Our media credential process is on our Legislative Branch website and lists the rules of decorum expected, the application, and the letter of application that must be submitted. An independent or self-employed videographer must bring in a copy of their business license. If employed by TV, Radio, or Newspaper, they submit a letter from their supervisor on company letterhead. All must present a current photo id, completed application, and the letter or business license to the designated Legislative Staff and have it signed. Once their paperwork is in order, Dept. of Administration’s General Services Office takes an official photo and they are issued a media badge for that session. The badge is good for the duration of that session and the following interim. A new badge must be issued each session.  At this time we do not issue media badges to bloggers or social journalists, mostly due to very limited space for media on the floor of the chamber. They are encouraged to join all other members of the public in the galleries.  All hearings and floor sessions in both the House and the Senate are livestreamed and broadcast on the Montana Public 
Affairs Network (MPAN) so they are readily available to the public.   Media Guidelines
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 Only members of the Capital Press Corp. are allowed on the chamber floor. 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. Credentialing is performed by the Capital Press Corp. and they have guidelines defining who is considered a member of the press.  Bloggers and social journalists are excluded from membership as are groups that have a partisan position or whose primary business function is not full-time collection and dissemination of general news and information. 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 No media access to the House or Senate floor. Both the House and Senate have a press box overlooking their respective chambers. Each press box is divided for print, radio and broadcast.   Still photographers are allowed to shoot photos from the corners of the gallery as long as they remain stationary and don’t obstruct any person’s view. Video cameras are confined to the press box.  There is no credentialing required, but sergeants assist Media Division with enforcing policies. It is up to the members of the Capitol Press Corps to determine who can have space in the press rooms or in the press booths in the gallery. Both the House and Senate are equipped with wireless internet accessible for free by the press.
Oregon Desks available on the floor against the side wall of the chamber. Still cameras may be used on the side aisles with no flash. Motion picture or television cameras may be used on the side aisles or within the chamber only as permitted by the presiding officer. To be accredited and receive floor privileges, news media must register with the Oregon Legislative Correspondents Association. If a blogger/social journalist has a proven history of covering the legislature, they may be granted privileges.  
Pennsylvania The House has a dedicated press box with about 12 seats reserved for credentialed media. Built-in pool cameras; TV news cameras and still photographers are allowed for 10-minute increments, and must be announced by the Speaker. Must be credentialed by an established news organization. N/A The Capitol newsroom used to be buzzing with reports from around the state, but rarely has more than six reporters anymore. 
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. 
Senate Media Credentialing Policy
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 Senate Floor; designated chairs on House Floor. Additional seating available in designated areas of each body's respective Gallery. Allowed on both the House and Senate Floors, in specific locations. Also allowed in designated areas in the Gallery(s). Video cameras used in the Gallery(s) must be on a tripod. Press Passes are available from the House of Delegates Support Services Office. Invited to sit in the respective body's Gallery. Virginia General Assembly's Media Guide.
Washington Credentialed media are allowed in the House and Senate wings and on the floor in designated areas. Priority is given to those whose beat is state government. Media can record interviews in the wings, committee rooms and public places on campus, provided it doesn’t disrupt legislative work.  Credentialing handled by Capitol Correspondents’ Association under direction and control of the president of the Senate and speaker of the House. A credential-seeker’s employer must be a news organization and nothing more. Must be credentialed according to criteria administered by the Capitol Correspondents’ Association. Media “day passes” are available on a case-by-case basis with approval of caucus communications directors.
West Virginia The credentialed media is allowed on the floor of the House and Senate in designated areas.  Still photographers must adhere to rules of the House and Senate and remain out of the way but can be on the floors of each body. Television cameras must set up in specific areas in each chamber.  Credentialing is provided by the Office of Reference and Information but are authorized by the presiding officers of the House and Senate. Applications for credentials are approved by an authorized representative of the committee of the capitol press corps. However, final determination is always decided by the presiding officers of both chambers as to anyone allowed on the floors of the respective chambers.  It is up to the members of the Capitol Press Corps to determine who can have space in the press rooms or in the press tables on the floor. Nothing prevents any person, generally, from access to the galleries. For more information, see:
Wyoming Not allowed on floor in either Chamber. Press room provided with live audio. We do allow photography and video just off the floor while the House and Senate are convened. Photographers and videographers have access to side chamber doors. Legislative Service Office issues media credentials to individuals 
employed by a commercial or non-profit news outlet  providing print journalism, broadcast journalism, wire and news services for redistribution to other news organizations, or online news services.
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.