Thursday, March 31, 2016

One-party delegations use loophole to evade Maryland open meeting law

The Prince George's County delegation in the House of Delegates will not meet Friday, but the Democratic caucus of that delegation will.

The membership of the delegation and the caucus are precisely the same. The difference is that where delegation meetings are generally open to the public, party caucus meetings are not.

Caucus meetings in counties with single-party delegations are a popular way for Maryland lawmakers to hash out local issues free from the prying eyes of the public. But the practice, defended by delegation members, raises red flags among advocates of open government.

"We're very concerned any time they use a loophole in the Open Meetings Act to avoid transparency," said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland.

It's a loophole that's available to only a few delegations. Most of Maryland's larger jurisdictions, such as Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, have delegations that include Democrats and Republicans.

But Baltimore City, along with Prince George's, Montgomery and Charles counties, have all-Democratic delegations. Carroll County and some of Maryland's rural counties are all Republicans...


  1. We are so fortunate to reside in the land of political escape artists.

  2. The Open Meetings Act Manual (2015): "The courts construe the Act so as to prohibit “evasive devices,” ..."


    Earlier editions had a much fuller quote from the decision this comes from.

    1. Previous editions were searchable, and the MPIA template letter (Appendix A) was easy to get to with one click. Now if you don't know it's there you can't find it. Brian Frosh- typical Montgomery County Democrat. Sadly he'll be in office forever. Voters choice. We Marylanders love crony capitalism and secret deals by legislators.

  3. of (some) the people by (some of) the people for (and against most) the people

  4. Contempt Of Public. Some state lawmakers just need to be fired.

    But seriously, has anyone tried contesting this practice?

    1. It is against the nature
      Of the state legislature
      To be concise with brevity
      For it would risk longevity.

  5. What do you expect when powers that be turn a blind eye to evasive actions? Scofflaws.

  6. The esteemed lawmakers
    Like Swiss cheese makers
    Are blending generalities
    With legal technicalities.


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