Photo above: Screen capture of video at Executive Nominations Committee as Sen. Mike Hough and Budget Secretary David Brinkley shake hands.
The legislature has taken another small step for transparency in its proceedings this year. Senate committees are now video live streaming their hearings online, and saving them for later viewing.
That includes the Executive Nominations Committee which streamed its very first hearing Monday night. Like all the other hearings of committees in both House and Senate, that hearing is archived and can be watched online.
As with most hearings of Executive Nominations, chaired this year by Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, the hearing was a virtual love fest for 15 judges appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley and five cabinet secretaries appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan.
As is customary, the appointees were introduced by the senators who represent the districts in which the nominees live.
This led to the slightly awkward situation in which Sen. Mike Hough introduced Budget Secretary David Brinkley, the former Senate leader Hough beat in last year’s primary, accusing him of being too liberal, as evidenced by voting for O’Malley’s budget.
But Hough praised Brinkley for his ability to work “across the aisle” in a bipartisan manner, saying he would do a good job for Hogan. The two men shook hands.
Miller praises Hough
The display of comity by Hough was praised by Senate President Mike Miller, sitting next to the committee chairs.
“It speaks well of both of you,” Miller said. “I’m very happy.”
Hough also introduced Del. Kelly Schulz as secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, and praised her work on the House Economic Matters Committee. Schulz had run on a ticket with Brinkley against a slate that Hough put together.
The five Hogan nominees got an easy time from the committee. Besides Brinkley and Schulz, they were David Craig for Planning Secretary, Van Mitchell for Health Secretary and George Owings for Veterans Affairs Secretary. All five had been members of the legislature, serving with some members of the committee.
Urged by Miller to keep the questioning and positive comments to a minimum so they could get to a swearing in of two new senators, Justin Ready and Andrew Serafini, the committee wrapped up its work in about an hour. There was a motion to approve all 20 nominees, and with a voice vote, all were approved unanimously.
You can watch the entire process online, but once the nominations get to the Senate floor, you’ll just have to rely on the usual audio with no pictures and minimal identification of who is speaking.
There are no plans to live stream the Senate sessions.
The article suggests that Senate herrings were unavailable previously. While they were not video streamed, they have been audio streamed for some time. Similarly, Senste floor sessions and House floor sessions are audio streamed daily. The audio of past Senate committee hearings and past Senate and House floor sessions are available on demand on line. It is an important fact that negates the suggestion that the legislature lacked access to these proceedings before.