Some people who come to a County Council legislative meeting are surprised by the efficiency with which the Council conducts meetings. That's because Councilmembers ask most of their questions at the work session, which is held the Tuesday afternoon before the Monday legislative session.
At a work session, Councilmembers have the opportunity to discuss pending contracts with agency heads. Sponsors of a bill give their reasons for the legislation, and there is an opportunity for the public to speak for or against its approval.
While legislative sessions are held at 6 p.m., work sessions start at 2 p.m. From time to time, there has been discussion about moving work sessions to the evening, but I understand there are concerns with the cost of overtime for staff. In the meantime, one important reform we should adopt is the televising of work sessions.
Televising work sessions would give the public the opportunity to watch the back-and-forth between the legislative and executive branches of government on bills and fiscal issues. It would improve transparency and openness in government, and is a reform that hopefully could be done with minimal cost. I have already talked with Council Chair Vicki Almond about this reform, and I hope our cable provider can implement it over the next few months.