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Council President Scott Leads Efforts to Modernize the City Council

Council President Scott Leads Efforts to Modernize the City Council

"I am excited that my office is able to leave behind a legacy of more modern and accessible ways of governing our city."

BALTIMORE, MD (Monday, October 19, 2020) -- In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott has led efforts to modernize City Council processes and proceedings. Since Monday, April 6, the Council has met virtually, overhauling the council meeting and hearing process. 

“COVID-19 has altered our way of life forever. At the same time, this pandemic has allowed us to start laying the groundwork to move the City Council into the 21st century,” said Council President Brandon Scott. “One of my goals as Council President was to move the City Council into the 21st century using technology and real-time, electronic filing systems. I am excited that my office is able to leave behind a legacy of more modern and accessible ways of governing our city.”

Members of the press and the public have been able to see legislation introduced, a calendar of upcoming hearings, and bill information once it is uploaded using Legistar. With the modernization efforts made since March 2020, more information will now be available in realtime, from cosponsorships to final votes. Previously, this information was recorded on paper during the City Council meeting and put into the system in the days following. 

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the City Council has modernized its procedures in the following ways: 

  • Accessibility: All bill files are now accessible electronically to the public in real time via the city’s legislative database, Legistar.
  • Archiving: Legislative archiving can now be done using the cloud-based software Legistar 5.0. This can save the Council money by freeing up payments to the City Archives Department for additional storage space.
  • Documentation: The public can review and print copies of any documents within bill files at any time, including signed copies of finalized ordinance sheets. This eliminates the need for residents to make appointments or pay extra printing fees onsite and increases transparency within city government. This also includes full Executive Appointment packets. 
  • Efficiency: The public is now able to access and see information at the same time the Council gets the information during meetings.
    • Amendments, 3rd Readers and Findings of Facts from Council meetings are now uploaded directly following meetings, rather than the next day.
    • Renumbering introductory bills that were withdrawn has become faster and simpler with electronic documentation.
    • Co-sponsors are now uploaded and posted to Legistar in real-time as hands are being raised.
    • Council Journals are now being uploaded immediately following the meeting, 24 hours sooner.

“Most Council offices in the U.S. are still using large amounts of paper to house their legislative records. This has become antiquated. Paper does not last forever,” said Scott. 

This evening at 5:00PM, Council President Scott will preside over the 20th Virtual Meeting of the Baltimore City Council. Members of the public and press can stream the meeting online, watch live on CharmTV (channel 25), or call in to listen live at 408-418-9388 (Access code: 173 617 3478).

Information and an agenda for the City Council meeting can be found here.

Members of the public are also encouraged to access an archive of previous Council meetings and hearings on CharmTV’s YouTube page.

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