Monday, February 15, 2010

More on the Maryland Open Government Act

I am not much in the business of recommending petition signing, but I note that an online petition website has been set up to collect signatures in support of Del. Helen Mizeur's Maryland Open Government Act.

I previously called attention to Del. Mizeur's bill in the blog, "Steps Toward a More Open Maryland Government" and said "if steps are taken to increase the transparency of legislature's activities and ease citizen access to information, Maryland's taxpayers will be in a better position to know whom to blame – or praise."

The Open Government Act would require the following:

1. Allowing the public free and total access to services provided on the General Assembly's website, including elimination of the $800 access fee charged for "up-to-the-minute" legislative tracking.

2. Webcasting General Assembly committee hearings and Board of Public Works meetings over the Internet.

3. Posting General Assembly committee hearing agendas at least one day in advance.

4. Allowing online sign-up for those wishing to testify before a General Assembly committee.

5. Publishing the votes of standing committees on the General Assembly's website.

6. Posting the Board of Public Works's proposed budget actions at least two weeks in advance.

7. Allowing for a public comment period in advance of Board of Public Works budget actions.

You may or may not want to sign the online petition. But, if you are interested in making government in Maryland more transparent and accountable, you should welcome passage of the Open Government Act and similar measures to increase transparency.