General Assembly Proposes Ban on Cameras and Recording Devices in Chambers

The Maryland General Assembly is considering a rule to ban cameras and recording devices in the Senate chambers.
A source inside the House Republican Caucus provided Watchdog Wire Maryland with a copy of the proposed rule, which was distributed at a caucus meeting last week.  The House of Delegates is also expected to take up this rule according to the source.
The proposed rule states.

Senate Rule 10 – Order and Decorum (e)  Camera, recording instruments and similar equipment or electronic devices are not permitted in the Senate Chamber without the permission of the President. If permission is given, the President immediately shall notify Senators.

It is not clear whether this rule applies to credentialed media, or if they need to get permission from Senate President Mike Miller to use recording equipment.
“I do know that after several pictures of people sleeping in the lounge or on the house floor that the leadership is looking to protect members from campaign year hijinx,” said Del. Warren Miller a Republican from Howard County.
In 2010 pictures of Republican Del. Dick Sossi asleep in the House chamber and Democratic Del. Saqib Ali in sleeping in the House lounge were used by their primary opponents.  Both were defeated.
“But, being a firm believer in transparency I think this rule is ridiculous,” Miller said
Leaving the decision to who is, and is not allowed recording devices to Mike Miller, and presumably Speaker of the House, Mike Busch, two hyper partisan leaders of a Democratically dominated legislature, raises more questions about a state government that already is considered deficient when it comes to transparency.

Calls to Senate President Miller’s office were not returned.


Len Lazarick of Maryland Reporter notified me that this has been an existing Senate rule, and that it is not enforced and any media with floor credentials can take photos or videos and the senators are not notified.  However, that still leaves the question of whether or not the ban applies to members of the public.

Update 2
Here is a copy of the House guidelines for media.

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1)    In the House Chamber and in House Committee hearing rooms, there are designated press areas available for credentialed members of the press.  These are individuals who have been given press identification cards from the Department of General Services police, after filling out an application and going through a background check.  THESE PASSES MUST BE DISPLAYED AT ALL TIMES FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES BY THE MARYLAND STATE POLICE. If reporters do not have a State-issued identification card, the House Speaker may grant special permission and issue a one-day press pass. The one-day press pass will be issued only after presentation of proper identification from a media affiliate.
 2)    CAMERAS ARE LIMITED TO THE BACK CORNER TO THE SPEAKER’S RIGHT OR THE MEDIA BOX IN THE GALLERY OF THE HOUSE CHAMBER WHEN THE HOUSE IS IN SESSION.  For certain special events and only with prior permission, the House Speaker will allow cameras to move part of the way up the right-hand wall in order to accommodate the large number of cameras.  Media outlets are not permitted to broadcast privileged or private information from legislators’ desks and laptops on the floor of the House or in Committee rooms.
 3)    REPORTERS ARE NOT PERMITTED ON THE HOUSE FLOOR, OTHER THAN IN DESIGNATED AREAS, ONCE THE BELLS RING UNTIL THE CONCLUSION OF THE FLOOR SESSION. Interviews with delegates are permitted after the floor session is over. Reporters should access the press area of the Chamber by walking through the House Lounge, not across the floor of the House Chamber.
 4)    Prior permission of the House Speaker is required before any photographing or televising can take place in the House Chamber or House Lounge.
 5)    The House Lounge is for the use of legislators only.  The Media IS NOT permitted in the House Lounge during Session except in transit to their designated area on the House Floor. HOUSE LOUNGE INTERVIEWS/PHOTOS ARE PERMITTED ONLY AFTER SESSION. 6)    Each House Committee is equipped with a mult box for radio and television use during committee hearings. The mult boxes are generally in the designated press area of each committee room. If the mult box is positioned in a location other than the designated press area, members of the press corps are allowed access to the mult box during committee hearings.

7)    Bill hearings for each of the six policy committees will be live-streamed online and archived on the General Assembly website ( In addition, the Up-To-The-Minute service for tracking bills will be available for no charge to any member of the press or public through the General Assembly website.

8)    No food, drink or smoking is permitted on the House Floor.

9)    We will continue the policy of requiring proper attire in the House Chamber.

But what about citizens, who don’t have state issued media credentials?  Obtaining credentials requires undergoing a criminal background check.  Journalism is an activity no longer reserved for professional media.  The first amendment gives citizen journalists every right to cover and report on their elected officials. The legislatures rules regarding media give the appearance that the government is choosing who is, and is not a journalist, and who will be allowed to cover it. 

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