MACo Associate Director Les Knapp sought amendments to HB 1301 before the House Health and Governmental Operations Committee on March 17. The bill, sponsored by Delegate Al Carr, would alter the State’s Public Information Act (PIA) to address the release of public documents in electronic format. Mr. Knapp was joined by Baltimore City Assistant Solicitor Hilary Ruley.
While Mr. Knapp supported the need to update the PIA, which was primarily designed to address paper records, he raised concerns about the handling of “metadata.” He noted that some metadata contains confidential or privileged information and that governmental agencies, and their attorneys, had an obligation to take reasonable measures to avoid the disclosure of that information. He stated that rather than have legal staff review every requested document to determine if the metadata were privileged, which would be time-consuming and costly, metadata should be exempt from inspection. Mr. Knapp also raised concerns about the bill’s handling of permissible denials, whether a custodian would have to create a new electronic record in response to a request, and language altering the existing PIA fee provisions.
At the end of the hearing, the Committee instructed the stakeholders to try to work out their concerns.