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Hogan prods legislature to hold hearing on his video bill, tweaks Miller for using profanity

At the Board of Public Works meeting, Gov. Larry Hogan took a shot at Democratic General Assembly leaders, prodding the House to schedule a hearing on one of his bills that would require the legislature to stream live video of its floor sessions. (Michael Dresser/Baltimore Sun video)

Gov. Larry Hogan took a shot at Democratic General Assembly leaders Wednesday, prodding the House to schedule a hearing on one of his bills while tweaking Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller for using colorful language.

Leading off a meeting of the Board of Public Works, the Republican governor criticized House of Delegates leaders for being slow to schedule a hearing on legislation that would require the legislature to stream live video of its floor sessions.

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Del. Shane Pendergrass, who chairs the House committee that will hear the bill, said it had been scheduled for a hearing just this morning. However, the hearing date had not yet been added to the General Assembly's website.

The lack of a set date gave the governor an opportunity to put public pressure on lawmakers to consider what he calls his Legislative Transparency Act of 2017.

"In spite of overwhelming bipartisan support for this legislation, the bill hasn't even been scheduled for a hearing in the House of Delegates," Hogan said.

The governor went on to tease Miller over his recent use of profane language from the Senate podium. Miller was expressing frustration over delays passing a bill that would set up a safety commission to monitor Washington's Metrorail system. The delay caused the state to miss a deadline that prompted the federal government to withhold transit funding.

Hogan offered to amend the bill to include a seven-second delay and a warning advising viewer discretion before watching.

Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, a board member elected by the Assembly, pointed out that the legislature has long provided video of its public hearings.

Alexandra Hughes, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Michael E. Busch, said the House led the way in providing video of hearings without prodding from a law or any governor. She said Busch has publicly stated his willingness to live stream House sessions once technical and logistical obstacles are overcome.

"Part of the challenge on our side is that we have 141 members," she said. "It's a very large chamber."

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To some lawmakers, the governor's bill represents an intrusion into the Assembly's internal functions.

"The legislature is going to make decisions about how the legislature operates and we'll let the governor make decisions about his own cabinet," Hughes said.

A Senate committee has scheduled a hearing on its version of the bill for March 3. A spokesman for Miller declined to comment on the governor's remarks but said Miller has said many times he's open to televising floor sessions "if it can be done right."

The spokesman said Miller would insist on the legislature or an independent entity having control of what is streamed, not the governor.

Pendergrass, who chairs the Health and Government Operations Committee, said she spent the morning dealing with critical issues involving hospitals and Medicaid. The Howard County Democrat said she didn't see why the bill should receive "special attention" among the hundreds her panel hears each year.

"It's not the most important bill in front of me," she said.

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