Hogan backs video of legislative sessions

Posted at 6:51 AM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 06:51:58-05

Gov. Larry Hogan is apparently anxious for Marylanders to see what legislators actually do on the first floor of the State House, so he is warmly endorsing legislation that provides for live streaming and archived video of floor and voting sessions in the House of Delegates and Senate.

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford at a Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday announced the Hogan administration's support for HB 316 reported here previously.

“Maryland citizens deserve accountability and transparency from their elected leaders, especially when modern technology should make access easy and inexpensive,” Hogan said in a statement. The governor was home sick with a cold, and Rutherford filled in as chair of the Board of Public Works.

“This is a common-sense piece of legislation, and I applaud the bill’s bipartisan sponsors – Delegates Kathy Szeliga and David Moon – for their commitment to ensuring transparency in state government.”

The governor's office currently live streams and archives year-round Board of Public Works meetings at an annual cost of only $3,000-$3,500, Boyd said. The video of Wednesday's meeting and previous meetings of the board can be found here.

UPDATED 2/25, 7 a.m. Boyd said Maryland is one of seven remaining states that do not offer similar video streaming or recordings of legislative floor sessions.

Treasurer Nancy Kopp at the meeting recalled that years ago as members of the House of Delegates, she and Comptroller Peter Franchot sponsored legislation for broadcasting of hearings and session.

"I think it's a boon to democracy," Kopp said. "People understand that issues are taken seriously. They actually see what is happening."

Franchot commented, "Of course their response was 'Franchot would never shut up.'"

As the audience laughed, Kopp said, "Well, there was that."

The administration's estimate of the cost may be low, since it may not include cost of staff time for set up and maintenance, much as Szeliga has said the legislature's staff inflated the costs of running a video system.