How to Comply With New Open Meetings Act Training Requirements

Legislation passed during the 2013 Session (HB 139) created several new training requirements on county governments with respect to Maryland’s Open Meetings Act.  The new requirements will become effective October 1.  This article highlights the new requirements and explains how county governments can fully comply with the new law.  The article incorporates compliance advice prepared by the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board (Board).

DESIGNATION OF AN INDIVIDUAL TO RECEIVE OPEN MEETINGS TRAINING

HB 139 requires a public body to designate at least one individual who is an employee, officer, or member of the public body to receive training on the requirements of Maryland’s open meetings law.  The public body must forward the name of the designated individual to the Board.  That can be done by an e-mail to OpenGov@oag.state.md.us, with a  subject line specifying  “Open Meetings training designee(s) of [name of  public body].”

OPEN MEETINGS TRAINING REQUIREMENT

HB 139 requires a designated individual to receive open meetings training within a specified time period of being designated.  For an individual initially designated by a public body after the October 1 effective date of the legislation, the individual has 6 months to complete the training, starting from October 1.  Note that the Board advises that an initially designated individual cannot use any training received prior to the October 1 effective date to fulfill the legislation’s training requirement.

For an individual who is subsequently designated by a public body, the individual has 90 days to complete the required training, starting from the date the individual was designated.

The training requirement can be met in two ways.  First, a designated individual could complete an online class on the requirements of the open meetings law offered by the Office of the Attorney General and the University of Maryland’s Institute for Governmental Service and Research.  The  online class is available here , and the designated individual can print out a certificate of completion.

The second way to meet the training requirement is for the designated individual to complete a class on the requirements of the opens meetings law offered by MACo or MML through the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance. MML has a class scheduled for its June conference, but again note that the training must be taken after October 1 in order to meet the HB 139 requirements.  MACo will likely be offering a class in 2014.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding HB 139 or its requirements, please contact Les Knapp (lknapp@mdcounties.org / 410.269.0043) at MACo.

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