Sun Editorial Stresses Importance of PIA Survey, Urges Journalist Participation

A Baltimore Sun editorial (2016-09-14) urged journalists to complete a Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) survey that was created by the Office of the Attorney General. The survey was required by 2015 legislation (HB 755/SB 695) that made major changes to the PIA, including the creation of the new compliance board and ombudsman.MACo has previously send out an email to county attorneys requesting that county record custodians fill out the survey.  The Sun stressed the importance of the survey in setting future policy and lamented that journalists From the editorial:

The law requires Attorney General Brian E. Frosh to prepare a report on its implementation and effects. The report will include an analysis of exemptions to the law and of requests for information denied by state agencies, and it will consider issues including whether the compliance board should be authorized to award damages in a dispute and the circumstances in which fee waivers are granted. To assist in the task, Mr. Frosh’s office worked with the Maryland, Delaware, DC Press Association, the Maryland Association of Counties, the Maryland Municipal League, Common Cause and others to develop a survey for both those who request information under the law and those who respond to requests on behalf of state agencies. The deadline is Sunday, and we urge all those who have experiences with the law — good, bad or ugly — to participate. …

So far, participation in the survey has been fairly balanced between those who respond to requests and those who make them, but, oddly, the group that relies most heavily on the PIA — journalists — has been under-represented. Because reporters tend to have wider experiences in making requests, their perspective is particularly valuable. We urge our fellow newspaper, television, radio and digital reporters to take a few minutes to complete the survey.

Mr. Frosh’s report will likely serve as the basis for debate about Maryland’s Public Information Act for years to come. Last year’s reforms were long overdue, and the question of whether we have to wait decades longer to strengthen them (or, worse yet, see those gains reversed) depends on the quantity and quality of information Mr. Frosh’s office gets. We have a right to know what the government is doing in our names and with our tax dollars, and this survey is a crucial tool to make sure we do

For those county record custodians that have not completed the survey but want to do so, please see the link below. *Read the instructions before starting the survey.*

Useful Links

2016 PIA Survey Link and Instructions

Conduit Street Summary of HB 755/SB 695 of 2015

 

 

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