Senate passes bill to expand sunshine law

March 21, 2000|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The state Senate approved a bill last night that would require most quasi-governmental agencies in Maryland to open their meetings to the public, though some senators worried it could hinder economic development activity.

The bill, which passed 38 to 8, would apply the state's Open Meetings Act to any agency in which public officials make up at least half of the board of directors. It now goes to the House of Delegates, which has killed such legislation in the past.

Sponsored by Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a Baltimore Democrat, the bill is backed by critics of the Baltimore Development Corp. upset over its handling of the $350 million West Side revitalization plan and other deals. BDC officials warn that they might be unable to strike deals with developers if forced to grant public access.

Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, warned the bill might also hurt the Injured Workers Insurance Fund, a quasi-state agency that sells workers' compensation insurance to businesses.

"Sunshine is good, but if we pass this bill, we're all going to get sunburned," said the Baltimore County Democrat.

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