Friday, April 06, 2018

The Maryland General Assembly Should Livestream Floor and Voting Sessions

Earlier this year, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced the Legislative Transparency Act of 2018, which would require all sessions of the Maryland General Assembly to be livestreamed to the public via both audio and video. Although Maryland residents currently can stream audio broadcasts of floor and voting sessions, without a video stream the broadcast is difficult to follow and does not provide Maryland residents and taxpayers with the transparency they deserve.
In February 2016, Governor Hogan supported a $1.2 million proposal to deploy cameras within the State House so the public could watch debates as they unfolded in the House of Delegates and the Senate. The proposal also would have archived the videos. Unfortunately, the proposal did not pass, and now two years later, the State House still is unequipped with modern technology and Maryland residents are unable to watch important policy debates that potentially could impact their day-to-day lives.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Maryland is one of seven states that does not provide a livestream video of floor and voting sessions in either chamber of its state legislature. Fortunately, the Maryland General Assembly does livestream videos for all committee hearings and archives them for later reference. By passing the Legislative Transparency Act, Maryland residents will be able to stay informed in a timely manner about the important debates and votes taking place within the Maryland General Assembly.
When Governor Hogan announced this legislation back in January 2018, he stated:
“I believe very strongly that the public has a right to know what their lawmakers are saying and doing during the debate on these important issues which are directly affecting the citizens and taxpayers of Maryland. Legislators should be deliberating out in the open, in the light of day, instead of behind closed doors. Our hope is that this year will finally be the year that this common sense measure is signed into law.” 
As we enter the final month of Maryland’s 2018 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly should act soon to pass the Legislative Transparency Act. Therefore, when the Maryland General Assembly convenes in 2019, Maryland residents and taxpayers will be able to watch committee hearings, policy debates, and voting sessions, and elected members will be more transparent and accountable moving forward.