Counties Laud Bill Protecting Sensitive 9-1-1 Transmissions

MACo’s Legal and Policy Counsel, Les Knapp testified in support for HB 215, Public Information Act - 9-1-1 Communications - Denial of Part of a Public Record, February 5, 2019. This bill prevents the public release of certain personally identifying information or graphic content under the PIA for 9-1-1 transmissions. The bill requires a custodian to deny inspection, under the PIA, of any part of a 9-1-1 record that depicts: a victim or information that…

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Washington County Commissioners Seek Public Input on Weekly Meeting Schedule

A Washington County email notice (2019-01-30) announced that the Board of County Commissioners is conducting an online public survey to consider moving the Board's weekly meetings in order to increase public participation. From the email notice: The Washington County Board of County Commissioners endeavors to create and operate in a participatory and transparent environment. The Board of County Commissioners currently holds weekly meetings on Tuesdays, with public participation and involvement beginning with citizen comments at approximately…

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Legislation Introduced Allowing Montgomery County Inspector General to Investigate Housing Commission

A Bethesda Beat article (2019-01-18) reported the Maryland Senator Ben Kramer has introduced legislation that would authorize the Montgomery County Inspector General to investigate the County's Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC). In the article Kramer, stated that he introduced the legislation after receiving complaints about HOC from both constituents and HOC employees. Some of the complaints stemmed from a dispute between HOC and Macedonia Baptist Church over a historically-black cemetery. HOC Chair Jackie Simon questioned the need…

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2019 Legislative Handbook Series – An Indispensable Reference

The Department of Legislative Services has released its quadrennial Legislative Handbook Series, a deep and useful reference series that encapsulates nearly every issue of government at the state and local level. The series may be downloaded or viewed online for free at the links below: Legislative Handbook Series: Vol 1 – Legislators Handbook Vol 2 – Government Services Vol 3 – Revenue Structure Vol 4 – Budget Process Vol 5 – Personnel, Pensions & Procurement…

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Open Meetings Training at #MACoCon

Numerous attendees to the MACo January 2019 Winter Conference to receive critical training in Maryland’s Open Meetings Act. The panel, Open Meetings Act, took place on January 4. The class is a core class for the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance Certificate Program and also satisfies a state open meetings training requirement.    Frederick County Attorney John Mathias and Gaithersburg Assistant City Attorney Frank Johnson discussed the Open Meetings Act, including: (1) when the Act…

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Dip a Toe in the Waters of Social Media, and Keep an Eye on the Lifeguard

At Charting the Course, MACo's Winter Conference, county officials hear suggestions for using social media to engage their constituents, and learn about legal issues that may arise in this relatively novel form of communication. Maryland Senator Will Smith, who moderated a panel discussion on social media at MACo's Winter Conference in Cambridge, Maryland during the first week of the year. Smith started the discussion by sharing his experience and perspective, growing up with social media…

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Hold That Tweet! Mastering the Art of 21st Century Communication

Don't let that social media post get you in trouble. Panelists at the MACo Winter Conference session, "Hold That Tweet! Mastering the Art of 21st Century Communication," will help you successfully navigate the world of digital communication -- avoiding the legal and societal pitfalls along the way. Title: Hold That Tweet! Mastering the Art of 21st Century Communication Description: The right communication strategies can build a bridge between government officials and the public they serve.…

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Preemption, PIA, and Public Safety Liability All Part of 2018 MACo Attorneys Conference

County Attorneys, legal, and legislative staff are invited to attend the MACo Attorneys Conference on November 14, 2018, to as they discuss the Public Information Act (PIA), preemption issues, public safety liability, the Open Meetings Act, and the new terrain for the General Assembly and Administration post-election. The conference is open to county attorneys, their legal staff, and county legislative staffers. There is no cost to attend but registration is required – please register online.…

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AG’s Office Revises Open Meetings Tools & Templates

The Maryland Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has updated its online resources that assist local governments in complying with Maryland's Open Meetings Act. In particular, changes reflect legislation that passed during 2018 Session (HB 695) that allowed a public body to go into closed-session to discuss cybersecurity matters. OAG has also added a template for the closed-session summaries that must be included in the open session minutes. The template may be used as provided…

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Carroll County IDA Open Meetings Violation Highlights Importance of Training

A Carroll County Time article (2018-10-02) highlighted the importance of ensuring local public bodies, especially all-volunteer bodies, are in compliance with Maryland's Open Meetings Act after the State's Open Meetings Compliance Board found that the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) violated the Act in numerous ways over the last two years. The IDA was created to secure new industries in the County through land and building projects. The IDA currently has 5 members who are appointed…

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