ANNAPOLIS – Maryland lawmakers hope to demystify state proceedings with legislation aimed at increasing the transparency of the Board of Public Works and the General Assembly.
The Maryland Open Government Act, introduced in the House of Delegates Wednesday, calls for live webcasting of Board of Public Works meetings and General Assembly committee hearings.
Among its other provisions is a guarantee that the public won’t have to pay fees for services available on the General Assembly website, including subscriptions to “Up-to-the-Minute” legislative updates, currently available for $800 per year.
The bill would also require General Assembly committees to post hearing agendas at least a day in advance. People who want to testify at the hearings would be able to sign up over the Internet.
These measures are designed to prevent witnesses from having to wait long hours without knowing when they would be called to testify.
In addition to webcasting Board of Public Works proceedings, the bill calls for the board to publish proposed budget actions on its website at least two weeks in advance of its meetings.
The two-week period would allow the public to comment on the proposals before the board meets.
At a press conference Thursday, Delegate Heather Mizeur, D-Montgomery, the lead House sponsor of the bill, praised the level of openness of the state government but said there was room for improvement.
“The Maryland Open Government Act is the next step,” Mizeur said. “Why not allow anyone, anywhere in the state, to see what’s happening in our committees in real time?”
- By the Capital News Service’s Daniel Leaderman.