July 16, 2016 Addendum: Today the Baltimore Sun ran an article on Baltimore City’s email retention policy (see Baltimore’s policy of deleting emails after 3 months scrutinized).   Maryland General Assembly representatives from Baltimore City and County were at the forefront of efforts to kill the email retention bill in Maryland’s House and Senate.

March 1, 2016 Addendum: This morning at 11:00 am the Government Operations and Long Term Care Subcommittee was supposed to hold a work session to vote on HB492, the Prevent-Hillary-Clinton-Like-Email-Practices bill.  Apparently earlier in the morning the Committee Chair, Baltimore County’s Dan K. Morhaim, who is also the Deputy Majority Leader, met with Delegate Sid Saab to put the screws on him to withdraw the email retention bill.  Morhaim didn’t want his members to have to make an embarrassing vote on a transparency bill that they might later have to explain to constituents wondering why Maryland General Assembly members were supporting Hillary Clinton like email practices.  

The official excuse both sides apparently agreed upon was that the bill wasn’t going anywhere, so why take a vote.  But that is a laughable excuse, given how many bills are voted upon that members know will go down to defeat prior to the vote.  It is especially laughable for a transparency bill because it is well known that members hate to take public votes on such bills, often forcing chairs–as with legislative redistricting bills–to place the bill in a drawer to prevent a vote.  Last year, for example, five legislative redistricting bills were introduced, and the committee chair didn’t allow a recorded vote on any of them.  

As a general rule, committee members expect their chairs to prevent them from having to vote against popular bills that they might later have to explain to their constituents. From that undemocratic perspective, Chair Morhaim was merely doing his job.

Testimony on two open government bills
before the Maryland Legislature’s
House Government Operations Committee

Testimony on two open government bills the Maryland General Assembly’s Committee on Health and Government Operations.  The bills and testimony were covered in Grunberger, Alessia, Bills seek to boost government transparency, accountability, Maryland Reporter, February 25, 2016.

The two bills are HB492 (amending the Public Information Act to require retention of government emails) and HB984 (amending the Open Meetings Act to require at least five years rather than one year to retain meeting minutes).  Both bills were inspired by the practices of the SBNC and AACPS.  Regarding the email retention bill, it was hoped that the Hillary Clinton scandal would create a teachable moment.

The testimony on HB492 came in a brief and extended form.  The brief form is what I submitted for the companion Senate bill.  The extended form is what I actually presented.

HB492, Health and Government Operations Committee

Verbal and extended written testimony,
Health and Government Operations Committee

Brief written testimony 


Delegate Sid Saab–1:35:34-1:36:33

J.H. Snider–1:36:33-1:42:06

Q&A with J.H. Snider–1:42:06-1:57:10

HB984, Health and Government Operations Committee

Verbal and written testimony


Delegate Sid Saab–1:27:47-1:29:12

J.H. Snider–1:29:12-1:33:10