In a flurry of activity to meet Monday’s deadline for bills sent to the Senate for action, the House of Delegates passed over 210 bills since Friday, most of them with unanimous or near unanimous votes.
In an inauspicious start to National Sunshine Week, sponsored by various journalism organizations, the House approved substantially watered down measures to improve public access to documents and the agendas of public bodies.
HB658, as originally introduced by Del. Jill Carter, would have created a State Public Information Act Compliance Board to review appeals of denials of requests for documents from state and local agencies. Instead, the bill was heavily amended into a study of the proposal by the Joint Committee on Open Government and Transparency. It passed the House Monday 133-0.
A similar fate fell to HB157, a bill introduced by Del. Susan Krebs and the members of the Carroll County delegation, which would have required advanced notice of the agendas for meetings of public bodies. That too was transformed into an interim study by the Joint Committee on Open Government and Transparency before it passed the House unanimously 134-0 on Monday.
Common Core bills pass
Two bills related to the implementation of Common Core standards in state public schools also passed the House Monday.
HB1164, an emergency bill sponsored by Del. Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, calls for the creation of a workgroup to review implementation of Common Core and the tests related to it. The workgroup would be made up of legislators, state education officials, representatives of teachers, PTAs, students and academic experts. It is supposed to be appointed quickly by the governor and make recommendations to the governor and legislature by September. It passed the House 127-8
HB1001, sponsored by Del. Sheila Hixson and 46 other delegates, requires that any waiver from the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act that the state’s Department of Education submits to federal officials must first be consistent with the state education law and must first be reviewed by the governor and members of the legislature. It passed the House unanimously, 129-0.