Wen legislation passes the Maryland General Assembly unanimously, it usually means that it doesn't do much aside from make lawmakers look good. Such was the case with House Bill 658, which started life as an effort to make state government more transparent and was ultimately reduced to another summer study last spring.
Perhaps we're wrong. Maybe the Joint Committee on Transparency and Open Government ó which was given the chore of studying ways to reform the appeals process when a reporter or member of the public is refused government records under the Maryland Public Information Act ó will recommend bold ideas that lawmakers will approve when they reconvene in January. But that's not the usual outcome for such efforts.
News organizations including The Baltimore Sun can lobby as hard as they want to strengthen public access to records held by state and local governments, but legislators are usually reluctant to make waves. The majority make a kind of political calculus ó if average citizens aren't storming the gates over the issue, why take the chance that you might cause potentially embarrassing information to be released? Continue>>>