Delegate seeks to put Md. committee votes online
The Maryland General Assembly is pretty good about letting the public know how legislators vote on bills that reach the House or Senate floors. Citizens can go on the legislature's Web site and pull up a tally sheet, as long as they know what bill they're looking for.
Committeee votes are another story. Vote sheets are available for public inspection, but reviewing them requires going to the relevant committee office in Annapolis during business hours.
Legislation that a Montgomery County delegate is planning to introduce in the coming session would make the process more transparent from afar.
The Legislative Voting Sunshine Act, drafted by Del. Saqib Ali (D-Montgomery), would require committee votes to be posted on the General Assembly site, as well as any other recorded votes on amendments and motions related to bills that are taken during committee meetings.
"I'm a technofile, and I'm also someone who's very interested in open government," said Ali, adding that his bill would cost the state little or nothing.
He characterized the current system as "a high barrier if you're not in Annapolis or if it's outside business hours."
Ali said he had yet to seek the support of House leadership for his bill, and a spokeswoman for Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said he was not yet convinced of its merits.
Busch "backs open and transparent government, and that's why committee votes are open to any member of the public and any member of the media," said spokeswoman Alexandra Hughes said.
She said that committee staff are often willing to relay votes on specific bills over the phone.
November 18, 2009; 4:29 PM ET
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