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Politics

Maryland House of Delegates will livestream video of one-third of its 2020 floor sessions

When Maryland’s House of Delegates turns on its newly installed cameras next year, they’ll only livestream a third of the House’s sessions.

In a memo House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones sent Wednesday to delegates, she said livestreaming — which has never been done from the chambers of the General Assembly — will be a pilot program for the legislative session that begins Jan. 8.

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When the House sessions are being streamed, viewers will see the name, county, district and title of each lawmaker as they speak, Jones wrote. She did not indicate which sessions would be streamed.

Previously, the House and state Senate only offered online audio of floor sessions. Because lawmakers are referred to by their county or leadership position, instead of by name, it can be difficult for some listeners to follow who is speaking.

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The late House Speaker Michael E. Busch, who died in April, had announced the House would livestream sessions starting in 2020. The Senate plans to follow suit in 2021.

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Bill hearings in House and Senate committees already are streamed live on the General Assembly’s website.

The House also will stop passing out hard copies of written testimony to delegates during committee hearings, Jones wrote in her memo. People who want to submit testimony to lawmakers will be encouraged to bring an electronic version of their text on a USB drive or to bring one copy that will be scanned and sent to delegates. Delegates will be able to read testimony on their state-issued laptops.

“This change will make for less waste and increased efficiency for committee staff,” wrote Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat.

Jones said she’s made other changes for the upcoming session, including renovating a women’s restroom and opening a unisex restroom near the House floor for delegates.

“I hope it will alleviate any wait times for members during the legislative session, as well as firmly communicate the House’s support of gender inclusivity," Jones wrote.

Changes in the Lowe House Office Building include adding changing tables in men’s restrooms, creating a room for nursing mothers and adding “nearly a dozen” seating areas for the public.

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.


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