Cybersecurity Awareness Month – Resources for Counties

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and after the past week of data breaches and shutdowns, now it is more important than ever to make sure you are being smart with your cyber. Each week of October has a set theme for you to capitalize on to educate others: Week 1: Be Cyber Smart Week 2: Fight the Phish! Week 3: Explore. Experience. Share. – Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week Week 4: Cybersecurity First Use the hashtag…

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AG Releases Revised Public Information Act Guidance
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (source: Maryland Manual Online)
AG Releases Revised Public Information Act Guidance

Yesterday, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) released the 16th edition of its Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) Manual. The release follows numerous legislative changes made during the 2021 Maryland General Assembly Session. According to the OAG's website, the Manual is intended as "[a] resource for both government officials seeking to meet their responsibilities under the Act and members of the press and public seeking access to information." In 2021, the Maryland Public Information Act…

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Baltimore County Launches Traffic Stop Dashboard

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski has announced the release of a new interactive dashboard displaying data regarding local police traffic stops. The dashboard will allow users to view stop, search, and arrest trends over time, demographic statistics, and other related data. The new tool represents the latest measure from Baltimore County to increase transparency and accountability. The dashboard was created by the County's BCSTAT team and the Baltimore County Police Department to display the number…

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Civic Participation: One Possible Upside of the Shutdowns?

An author on Route Fifty argues that wider use of remote access tools may mark an expansion in civic and public participation in governance. Megan Asikainen from CivicClerk (a component of CivicPlus, the company that developed and manages MACo's website), talks through the remote access mini-revolution born from the health pandemic...and finds a silver lining in making policy processes even more open to the public, through wider acceptance of online access tools. From the Route…

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2021 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Information & Ethics

This post summarizes the status of various public information & ethics bills that MACo took a position on during the 2021 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…

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Howard Exec Ball’s Budget to Include Funding for Body-Worn Camera Program

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced that his fiscal 2022 operating budget will include more than $3.2 million for the implementation of a body-worn camera program. The program is slated to include the Howard County Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, and staffing needs for the State’s Attorney’s Office. “Nationwide, we know that many communities are hurting and have faced injustice at the hands of those entrusted to protect and serve,” said County Executive Ball. “While…

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PIA Body Camera Bill Passes Senate Committee for First Time

Last week, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted favorably on a bill that would update the Public Information Act (PIA) to create a necessary policy for the release of body camera footage. SB 690 - Public Information Act - Inspection of Records From Body-Worn Digital Recording Devices is a prior MACo initiative that had passed the House of Delegates several years in a row. The bill repeatedly encountered opposition in the Senate Committee, but this…

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Washington County Commissioners Vote to Remove Meinelschmidt Over Ethics Stir, Suit to Follow

The Washington County Commissioners voted to dismiss fellow Commissioner Cort Meinelschmidt from his seat, after a recent ethics matter. The action may end up in court, with authority for the move not fully clear. Cort Meinelschmidt, elected as County Commissioner in 2018, was removed from his seat by a vote of the other sitting Commissioners this week. Their action came in the wake of ethics concerns arising from a fledgling business connected to Meinelschmidt receiving…

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Attorney General Posts Updated Open Meetings Act Manual

The Maryland Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has published the 10th edition of the Open Meetings Act Manual. The Manual outlines the Act’s many provisions and provides important context for public bodies, meeting facilitators, and the public. The revised edition includes updated information and guidance from more recent court cases, and decisions of the Open Meetings Act Compliance Board. From the manual's preface: This latest edition of the Open Meetings Act Manual supplements those…

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MACo Advocates for More Options to Publish Legal Notices

On 19, January 2021 MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified virtually before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee to support SB 305 Legal Advertisement or Legal Notice - Publication in Newspaper or Newspaper in General Circulation - Online Newspapers. This bill would allow legal notices to be published in online newspapers to meet statutory requirements for legal notices. From the MACo Testimony: The number of local papers has declined over time, leaving local governments with…

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