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Republicans join open government push

Republican leaders of the General Assembly on Wednesday became the latest to call for more sunshine in Maryland government.

Kittleman.jpegDuring a morning floor session in the Senate, Minority Leader Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard) proposed a rule change that would require the chamber's committee votes to be posted on the legislature's Web site "as expeditiously as practicable."

The proposal echoes legislation filed by Del. Saqib Ali (D-Montgomery) that would require committee votes from both chambers to be posted online. The House does not make such votes available on the Internet; the Senate posts the votes well after they occur.

"It's my understanding that we don't need legislation," Kittleman told his colleagues, saying the change could be made in the Senate rules that the chamber adopts at the outset of each session.

Jacobs.jpegSenate Minority Whip Nancy Jacobs (R-Harford) followed with a proposed rule change that would make clear that all Senate committee meetings are open to the public, including voting sessions.

"There's some confusion by the general public," Jacobs said.

That proposal got some pushback from Democrats, who noted that state law already requires the meetings to be open.

Both proposals were referred to the Senate Rules Committee. In keeping with the spirit of the discussion, Senate President Thomas V Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) announced the committee would have public hearings on both ideas.

O'Donnell.jpegThe open-government push continued with the release of a letter by Kittleman and House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell (R-Calvert) to the Democratic leaders of their chambers. The letter backed several other rule changes, including one that would provide citizens with "streaming video" coverage of committee hearings.

Some of their proposals are similar to those contained in broader legislation authored by Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery).

"The public deserves the highest standards of openness and accountability from their state legislators, and we believe that immediately implementing these measures for the 2010 session will go a long way towards ... transparency to our constituents," Kittleman and O'Donnell wrote.

By John Wagner  |  January 19, 2010; 3:28 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , John Wagner , Republican Party  
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