Not So Open Government

Maryland Senate vote down an effort to broadcast committee voting sessions online.

UPDATED (1:18 p.m.)—People interested in hearing committee voting sessions will still have to continue to go to Annapolis to do it.

The Senate voted 41-6 against a resolution that would have required its four standing committees to broadcast the voting sessions online as it does its hearings.

Sen. Allan Kittleman, a West Friendship Republican, said the bill would make the Senate more open and allow residents to hear those debates. The recordings would also create a legislative record that could be used later to help courts determine what the intent was behind bills that are challenged in court.

"This would just make us more open and transparent," Kittleman said. "I think our citizens would like to know what we talk about and would like to know why we vote the way we vote."

Kittleman added: "Lastly, it's just the right thing to do."

Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, a Perry Hall Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, said the recommendation against the resolution was meant to merely be a delay in order to discuss a host of technology issues.

Klausmeier said the committee voted to "defer the [Kittleman's] rule until another time when we can sit down and discuss some other changes we might need to make to bring the Senate of Maryland into 2013, 2014. Because of audio equipment, because of technology, we do need to move forward."

"His bill did not go on deaf ears on any of us," Klausmeier said.

Joining Kittleman in support for the resolution were Republican Sens. David Brinkley, George Edwards, Joseph Getty, Barry Glassman and Nancy Jacobs. The remaining 41 senators voted against the resolution.

The Senate and House of Delegates currently broadcasts and archives its sessions online. You can even listen to the debate of Kittleman's rule [it starts at 31:03 of the recording]. The standing committees for each chamber also broadcast audio from the website and the House Committee hearings typically include video.

Voting sessions are open to the public but not broadcast.

And for now it will continue to be that way until the Senate completes a study—though that study and a deadline are not yet formalized.

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romeo valianti February 15, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Watching the State Senators in action, would surely be an uplift of what we are getting now form the Carroll County Commissioners. If the State senators would broadcast their meetings, there would be no need for Commissioners Robin Frazier or Richard Rothschild running up and down Ritchie highway to Annapolis. Staying home, by these Commissioners would not only save time but more importantly as well, $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
O.P. Ditch February 18, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Good Job Senator Kittleman (and other Repubs)! We need more openness, especially in Maryland.
W. L. February 18, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Don't hold your breath. That would mean they would have to be honest. Never happen. They are too so used to being devious and crooked and having all their "under the table" deals without our knowing about any of it.
Buck Harmon February 18, 2013 at 03:23 PM
I would liken the chances of government becoming more open at this point to the chances of the divide being narrowed.....the Democrats and Republicans are world class dummies that seem to focus on widening the divide for some reason...
craig o'donnell February 18, 2013 at 03:30 PM
<< People interested in hearing committee voting sessions will still have to continue to go to Annapolis to do it. >> Not strictly so. Any newspaper, TV station, radio station (public or for-profit), citizens' group or nonoprofit, journalism school, political science program [are ya hearing this, UM?) can assign students/volunteers/people to sit in a "voting session" and record audio or shoot video. This article is a little unclear in that, when the Gen Ass'y amended the Oopen Meetings Act at the last minute two years ago, they defined "minutes" to include what they already were doing. that's because they were ridiculed for failing to follow their own Open Meetings Act. House: streaming video and archived video Senate: streaming audio and archived audio Both houses do NOT webcast or archive their voting sessions. They must, however, upload a PDF of the tally sheet for each vote. Since the public hearings are often drone-a-thons, have no real schedule, and don't always cover all the issues, more than half of the legislative process is obscured. I've beeen told that, in essence, if you attend too many voting sessions in Apls, you find that the bigwigs in the Gen Ass'y don't want to talk to you, or your lobbying group, or your news outlet. Naturally. It's Maryland.


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