The legislature's presiding officers said Thursday they support transparency efforts to livestream video of debate in the General Assembly chambers, but their comments came with barbs for Gov. Larry Hogan.
Hogan endorsed a bill Wednesday that would have the state spend $1.2 million to install cameras in the House of Delegates and Senate and livestream floor debates. It's the only legislation introduced by lawmakers that Hogan has taken a position on this year.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch said in a radio interview on WBAL-AM's "C4 Show" that "we've always been supportive of that," and suggested it would counteract Hogan's misperception that the legislature doesn't work hard.
Busch said that Maryland Public Television used to broadcast the proceedings until budget cuts made it impossible.
"If the governor wants to put money back in for the Maryland Public Television, right now, today, we're happy to have all those sessions videotaped." Busch said.
"We're all for transparency, and I think the more the general public gets to see the legislature at work, they'll know the hard work that they do down here, that it's not some kind of vacation [as] the governor indicated."
Busch was referring to comments Hogan made a week earlier on the same show, when Hogan said of lawmakers, "It's like they're on spring break. They come here for a few weeks. They start breaking up the furniture and throwing beer bottles off the balcony."
The comments infuriated lawmakers, who spent much of the afternoon tweeting photos of complicated briefings or testimony in committee hearings with the hash tag "#notspringbreak." And it perpetuated a rift between the Republican governor and the Democrats who dominate the legislature.
The governor's support of live streaming legislative debates -- especially in the absence of endorsing any policy issues other than his own -- hit a nerve with his sometimes-ally Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.
Miller said the Senate already has audio streaming that anyone can listen to.
"Let the governor worry about the second floor, OK?" Miller said, referring to Hogan's executive offices in the State House. "And we'll worry about the first floor, OK? … We're on top of everything technologically and we move forward. And we want everyone to know everything. We want to continue to be transparent."
Then Miller suggested that perhaps Hogan needs his own video livestream.
"I'll put one of the cameras up in his office and he can talk to the camera all day long, OK? How's that?" Miller said. "I'm not big on showboating. That's not my middle name. I'm not a show horse, I'm a work horse. I get the goddamn job done."