January 26, 2010

Analysis: Senate to post committee votes online

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Senate President Mike Miller, D-Calvert and Prince George’s, said Tuesday that his chamber intends to post committee votes online by the time they are brought to the floor for the consideration of amendments.

Several senators have made calls for committee votes to be posted on the state’s legislative information Web site, and the House of Delegates has agreed to make a similar move.

“[Senate Minority Leader Allan] Kittleman proposed a rule that we’ve agreed to work with that says that committee votes will be posted within 10 calendar days,” Miller said. “But we hope to have it done much more quickly than that.”

The announcement came at the end of a press conference outlining the Senate Democrats’ policy agenda for this year’s session, which includes a new volunteer-based program for young adults interested in ground-level Chesapeake Bay restoration, as well as a bill barring employers from using people’s credit histories as a basis for denying them employment.

Senator Mike Lenett, D-Montgomery, one of the credit history bill’s sponsors, said that a poor credit history is not a viable indicator of job ability, particularly given the tough economy.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Lenett said. “More people can’t get jobs, so they can’t get fix their credit, so they can’t jobs, and it goes on and on.”

UPDATE

House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, has made similar plans to make committee votes available online. According to a memo to the House committee chairs, committee votes will be posted to the General Assembly website prior to each bill coming to the House floor.

Busch also authorized testing of software that would provide video streaming of committee hearings, with the intention of unveiling full video streaming of hearings for the public during next year’s legislative session.

-Erich Wagner