Thursday was a tough day for open government in Annapolis.
Shortly after the Senate overwhelmingly voted against a resolution to allow the public to listen online to committee voting sessions, the House of Delegates locked out the public and press while they debated and voted on bills.
Apparently the reason for the closure was related to a scheduled panoramic group photograph.
Alex Hughes, a spokeswoman for Michael Busch, said the Speaker of the House "didn't even realize you guys were locked out. The desk clerks told him to run the bills for efficiency purposes."
The group photograph is a semi-complicated effort even before you add in the idea that you have to organize 141 legislators and ask them to remain at their desks. The camera is moved around the chamber in order to complete the picture of the entire chamber. [This is what part of the process looks like.]
Traditionally, the photo is taken before or after the legislators complete their work. The press and public are typically not in the room so that they also do not appear in the photo.
The Senate had a similar photograph taken on Thursday before its regularly scheduled session.
Hughes called the House of Delegates lock-out "an oversight."
Patch had planned on filing a complaint with the Open Meetings Compliance Board.
That board has the power to review violations and issue determinations on whether the law was broken but cannot penalize the public body that violates the law.
In this case, an acknowledgement and apology might be the best outcome the public could hope for.