Public Information Act Timelines During COVID-19 Crisis

The Public Information Act Ombudsman has released general guidance for government record custodians regarding Public Information Act (PIA) timelines during the COVID-19 crisis. The guidance stresses the importance of communication with record requestors and good faith attempts to provide record access.    From the Ombudsman: Q. Does the Public Access Ombudsman have any guidance for State and local governmental custodians about dealing with PIA requests and PIA deadlines in the current COVID-19 crisis? A. Although…

Comments Off on Public Information Act Timelines During COVID-19 Crisis
2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Information & Ethics

This post summarizes the status of various public information and ethics bills that MACo took a position on during the 2020 Regular Session. County governments gather and maintain public information as part of their various functions. Compliance with the Maryland Public Information Act and maintenance of a high level of ethics in all government practices are priorities throughout the administrative agencies and legislative bodies of Maryland’s county governments. Through its advocacy and professional education in…

Comments Off on 2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Information & Ethics
Open Meetings Act Questions Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

In response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the General Assembly has implemented several measures designed to prevent community transmission of the virus while allowing the Legislature to continue proceedings. This includes restricting public access to government office buildings and holding sponsor-only bill hearings. Many local governments will likely want to adopt similar measures for their public meetings, which will invite several questions relating to the Open Meetings Act. In general, public bodies should attempt to…

Comments Off on Open Meetings Act Questions Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Baltimore City Considering Funding Public Campaign Financing with Energy Tax Revenue

Baltimore City will consider legislation that would mandate money from the City's energy tax be set aside for the Fair Election Fund that supports public financing for candidates. The bill introduced by Councilman Kristerfer Burnett would require $2.5 million from the energy tax go directly to public campaign financing. The City's energy tax, which is based on the number of units of energy delivered to users, was projected to bring in $41,208,800 in fiscal year…

Comments Off on Baltimore City Considering Funding Public Campaign Financing with Energy Tax Revenue
Counties Support Data Sharing to Help Local Health Departments Address Opiod Crisis

MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu submitted testimony to the Senate Finance Committee to support SB 710 - Health – General – Prescription Drug Monitoring Program – County Health Officer. This bill would strengthen local health departments’ ability to help identify and deter prescription drug abuse and diversion as the state continues to struggle with an opioid crisis. From the MACo Testimony: SB 710 adds a local health department (or local health officer) to the list…

Comments Off on Counties Support Data Sharing to Help Local Health Departments Address Opiod Crisis
Counties Oppose State Intrusion into Local Ethics Laws Decisions

MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu testified before the House Environment & Transportation Committee to oppose HB 1565 - Public Ethics and Campaign Activity – County Governing Bodies and County Executives – Planning and Zoning Applications.  The bill unnecessarily imposes ethics requirements adopted by only one jurisdiction and extends them to every county, with all forms of county government.  From the MACo Testimony: Every county makes land use decisions differently, and accordingly, develop their own ethics laws when…

Comments Off on Counties Oppose State Intrusion into Local Ethics Laws Decisions
Counties Oppose State Preemption of Local Ethics Laws

MACo Associate Director Kevin Kinnally testified in opposition to HB 1544 - Public Ethics and Campaign Activity - County Council Members and County Executives - Limitations on Applicant Contributions. before the House Ways and Means Committee. This bill needlessly expands ethics provisions applying to Prince George’s County to all charter counties including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Talbot, and Wicomico. Since local legislation has long been the vehicle for such…

Comments Off on Counties Oppose State Preemption of Local Ethics Laws
Ethics Rewrites Could Disadvantage Smaller Counties, Towns

MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson and Maryland Municipal League Executive Director Scott Hancock testified to February 25, 2020 to oppose HB 1055 (CF SB 974) - Public Ethics - Lobbyists - Gift Exception and Regulated Activities Exemption. This bill would require a range of government employees and representatives to follow State ethics regulations currently applicable to registered private lobbyists. One portion of the bill singles out employees of representative associations, creating an unfair dichotomy between…

Comments Off on Ethics Rewrites Could Disadvantage Smaller Counties, Towns
Counties Support Task Force to Study Body Camera Recording Storage Options

MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee to support HB 739 - Law Enforcement Body Camera Task Force. This bill seeks to coordinate and develop solutions to the costly issue of police body cameras by establishing the Law Enforcement Body Camera Task Force that is charged with studying options for the economical storage of audio and video recordings made by bodyworn cameras (BWCs) and recommending budget-conscious storage solutions. From the…

Comments Off on Counties Support Task Force to Study Body Camera Recording Storage Options
Close Menu