AUGUSTA – The Maine House of Representatives voted 91-53 Thursday to prohibit members from taking photographs or videos of one another during floor sessions.

The rule change split largely along party lines, with Democrats supporting the it and Republicans opposing it. It comes as elected officials and politicians increasingly turn to social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to get their message out.

Floor sessions are already live-streamed on the Legislature’s website, and Democrats said the rule change is meant to preserve decorum in the Legislature, although the state Senate does not have a similar prohibition.

“We frankly don’t see a purpose for this rule,” said Assistant Minority Leader Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle. Stewart said Republican members of the House sometimes have problems accessing the recorded floor session videos made available after sessions are live-streamed.

Stewart said there were already rules on decorum that could be enforced if members taking photos or videos became a distraction. He said members should be able to reach Maine residents on social media.

But House Majority Leader Matt Moonen, D-Portland, said the rule change is meant to prevent distractions. Moonen said other state legislatures and the U.S. Congress have similar rules.

“Practically, that means paying the institution of the House the respect it deserves and (allowing) members to focus on the serious issues we are charged with considering,” Moonen said.

He later said the rule doesn’t prohibit members from taking self portraits or “selfies” or videos of themselves.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

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