Gee, why the secrecy guys?
I mean if you don’t have anything to hide…..
ANNAPOLIS — Federal homeland security officials skirted open meetings laws at a briefing last week on the state’s efforts to comply with the federal Real ID Act, unsettling several lawmakers in an era of heightened government transparency.
The meeting with members of the House Judiciary Committee and other lawmakers was conducted in a third-floor conference room in the Casper R. Taylor Jr. House Office Building, and people who were in the room characterized it as a largely routine briefing that didn’t need to be held behind closed doors.
Despite that, lawmakers went to great lengths to ensure there was not a quorum of House Judiciary Committee members present at any one time to stay within open meetings guidelines. As a new committee member would enter the room, another would leave.
The panel has 22 lawmakers, so no more than 11 could be present to keep things above board.
When House Judiciary Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Dist. 27A) of Upper Marlboro began to spread the word about the meeting during a floor session last week, some committee members grew uncomfortable with the method in which it was being held.
“I’m not really sure why it had to be done surreptitiously,” said Del. Michael D. Smigiel Sr. (R-Dist. 36) of Elkton, who serves as minority parliamentarian. “As the details [emerged] of where, when and how the meeting was to take place, I became concerned, as did other delegates, that it may not be appropriate to attend.”
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security did not return calls seeking comment on briefing procedures with state legislators.
Smigiel declined to attend, but two other Republicans — Dels. Susan K. McComas and Donald H. Dwyer Jr. — were present for parts of the meeting. Their biggest qualm was that as a new Democrat showed up, a Republican was asked to leave.
“It was an exclusive club,” said McComas (R-Dist. 35B) of Bel Air.
Several delegates not on Judiciary who are sponsoring proof of legal presence bills also attended, but they were not included in the maximum number of lawmakers allowed in the room. Del. Jolene Ivey, who helped arrange the meeting with federal officials through her connections to U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D), confirmed she was present along with Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-Dist. 21) of College Park.
Ivey has sponsored a bill to create a two-tiered system, under which the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration would issue identification cards to people who can prove they are legal residents, while keeping the current drivers’ license system intact. She said the information shared by federal officials in the meeting was valuable to lawmakers.
“I don’t think there was any effort to keep people out,” said Ivey (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly, a former press secretary for Cardin when he served in the House of Representatives. “They were very sensitive to the legality of it.”
Staff Writer Janel Davis
Please Note: All Color and bolding are added by the owner of this blog purely for asthetic purposes.
I am not one of those weirdos who think that our governemnt cannot be trusted and I am completely OK with the technological nudity required in airports to prove that I am really a just girl and not a lifelike explosive device.
Also from Jim Harper of the Cato Institute
There’s not much chance that U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials went to Annapolis to argue against having Maryland implement the national ID law. Maryland’s Gazette reports:
Federal homeland security officials skirted open meetings laws at a briefing last week on the state’s efforts to comply with the federal Real ID Act, unsettling several lawmakers in an era of heightened government transparency.
A meeting with the Maryland House Judiciary Committee members and other lawmakers was carefully regulated to avoid reaching a quorum so open meeting rules could be avoided.
Something is funny in the state of Maryland, and something is funny at the DHS, to insist on holding closed meetings about REAL ID during what President Obama promised would be the most open and transparent administration in history.
Napolitano revealed early this month that she has been collaborating with the National Governors Association on REAL ID. Just what they plan also remains a secret.
As governor of Arizona, she signed legislation to resist REAL ID, but politicians that come to Washington have a tremendous capacity to go native and start working to build federal power. There’s even precedent for them working with the NGA to do it.
contributed to this report