Counties Urge House Committee to Retain PIA Protections for Residents

MACO Legal & Policy Counsel Les Knapp testified February 11, 2020 to oppose HB 717 – Public Information Act – Required Denials – Distribution Lists. This bill eliminates reasonable protections for an individual’s personal contact information under the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) where that information is part of a distribution list and is used by government to send informational notices.

The bill seeks to undermine legislation passed in 2018 (Chapter 40) that protects the names and contact information of persons who receive newsletters, informational notices, or emergency alerts from governmental entities or officials.

From the MACo Testimony:

It is a fundamental principle of both the State and local governments in Maryland that public information be easily available to residents and other interested parties. A primary method of providing such information is through informational notices. HB 717 opens the door for such individuals’ email addresses, phone numbers, and physical addresses to be disclosed to outsiders. Subjecting even just these components of a person’s contact information to disclosure under the PIA leaves the person vulnerable to unwanted solicitations for commercial and political operators – something that was happening prior to the passage of Chapter 40 – and creates a disincentive for receiving information from government entities.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.

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