How much of the General Assembly action would you like to see live-streamed?
90 days? Two weeks? Big events?
A bill the Maryland Senate passed on Thursday would require the governor to send additional funding each year to the Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission. The commission would record and distribute live video of the annual State of the State address, the State of the Judiciary addresses, and Maryland Senate and House of Delegates floor sessions during the last two weeks of the legislative session.
Some lawmakers wanted more.
Sen. Justin Ready, R-Carroll, attempted an amendment to the bill on Thursday, but it would require maneuvering.
The bill — sponsored by Sen. Nancy King, D-Montgomery — already had passed on second reader, when senators are allowed under the rules to amend bills that originated in their chamber.
On Thursday, the bill was on third reader, when a final vote is held.
Ready said he tried to stand up for the amendment during second reader, but was reading another bill and missed his shot.
He asked the chamber on Thursday to vote to move the bill back from third reader to second, so the Senate could consider his amendment. Ready wanted the bill to include recording floor sessions — which are currently recorded by audio only — for the full session.
“We just went through a very extensive, and I think very healthy debate on paid sick leave. We’ve had a number of other big bills these last two or three weeks that we’ve debated and it’s not two weeks to go yet,” he said, highlighting that high-traffic floor sessions like those before Crossover Day (this coming Monday) wouldn’t be captured by the bill. “I really believe very strongly we should have this going for the entire session.”
Some lawmakers said the cost of Ready’s amendment was simply too high.
“We thought about it, but it’s much too costly to do that,” said Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, D-Baltimore County and chair of the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee. “... I think the bill as it is is the appropriate thing. It gives the public the options to view what’s going on.”
Despite the debate and without the amendment, the bill passed unanimously, 47-0.
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore city, said there was still an opportunity for year-round filming through the governor’s proposed bill, called the Legislative Transparency Act of 2017.
Hogan, earlier this week, called on lawmakers to make progress in passing the bill.
“Marylanders want and deserve this openness and transparency,” he said.
His bill would require live-streaming and closed captioning of floor sessions of both chambers, standing committee hearings and voting sessions. While the committee hearings are currently video streamed and archived, voting sessions generally are not.
According to the Department of Legislative Services, in 2015, floor sessions of both chambers totaled approximately 155 hours and standing committee hearings lasted about 7,200 hours.
The cost has been an issue for the governor’s bill, as well.
The Department of Legislative Services estimated a $2.2 million increase in costs next year if the bill passed.
Earlier this week, in passing the first version of a state budget, the House of Delegates decided that $1.2 million the governor appropriated for video streaming next year would be contingent on whether the Legislative Transparency Act passes this year.
Health care rally scheduled
Congressman John Delaney will hold a “rally to save health care” on March 20 at Gaithersburg High School.
The event, open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m.
You can register online at www.eventbrite.com/e/rally-to-save-health-care-registration-32887828380.
Delaney said he is holding the rally because the proposed American Health Care Act would strip coverage from millions of Americans.
“This bill removes coverage from those most in need, raises premiums and deductibles for working families, and assaults a woman’s right to choose by ending Planned Parenthood funding,” he said in a statement. “We’ve made tremendous progress by expanding access and affordability of care all across this country, and we must stand tall and send a message that Maryland families oppose this bill.”
Changing faces at central committee
The Frederick Democratic Central Committee announced this week that Joshua Cramer is its newest member. Cramer was one of 18 candidates who applied to succeed Derek Shackelford on the committee.
Cramer is a lifelong resident of Frederick County and former Linganore High School teacher. He teaches history in the Washington County public school system and is active within the Washington County Teachers’ Association.
Angela Spencer has resigned from the committee.
Because the organization’s bylaws require six men and six women, it is seeking applications for a new female member.
An applicant must be a female resident of Frederick County and a registered Democrat. Anyone interested should submit a letter that includes a name, address, email address and phone number, along with a brief resume, to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than March 27. Applicants may be asked to sit for a brief interview on the evening of April 4.