- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska lawmakers will have to watch the NCAA basketball tournament after work.

Nebraska Chief Information Officer Brenda Decker told legislative and judicial administrators in an email that websites for streaming the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament are blocked on the Capitol’s network. Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha read the message to his colleagues on Wednesday, saying the information office has received complaints about difficulties watching games online.

“As a policy, the office of the CIO blocks several items such as gambling, pornography, sites notorious for malware, etc.,” the email read. “Also, in each March we block March Madness to ensure that that the network doesn’t have an issue with productivity as a result of several people video streaming March Madness during the work hours.”

Decker said the state purchases bandwidth based on normal day-to-day activities. When large numbers of government employees stream lengthy video, it eats into the network’s capacity for regular state business, she said.

Senators and staff using the Capitol WiFi are unable to access most sports websites, including ESPN and CBS Sports Network, even for non-streaming purposes like checking scores and brackets. Huskers.com, the site of University of Nebraska-Lincoln athletics, is also blocked.

The blocked sites apply to government offices across the state. Decker said the state has blocked March Madness streaming sites during the tournament for at least a decade, as well as streaming sites for other major events, including Tiger Wood’s return to public competition in the 2010 Master’s Tournament, in order to keep the network running efficiently.

Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala said he feels restricting access to all sports websites is a childish way to deal with the issue. He and several other senators said they are not too concerned with the policy when they are on the job.

“I mean, we’re senators, how old are we?” he said. “But is it something I need to be really worried about? No.”

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