Federal Circuit Court: Missouri Unpaid Activists Aren’t Lobbyists

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an opinion saying that unpaid volunteers, even when working for a nonprofit organization and dealing directly with policymakers, cannot be compelled to register as lobbyists. If appealed and considered on a national scale, the ruling could have broad effects on public ethics laws. From an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch : The 6-5 ruling overturned a decision last November by a three-judge panel of the same court.…

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Hear Updates on the Open Meetings and Public Information Acts at MACo’s FREE Members-Only Training

Recent decisions and debates around digital and one-to-one communications between elected officials have prompted all public officials to take a deeper look at how business is conducted. MACo is offering a members-only update session with representatives from the compliance boards to help members understand the current interpretations of these important laws. MACo members are invited to attend our Public Information Act and Open Meetings Act Update Session on November 20, 2019, from 9:00 am -…

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Open Meetings Board: One-By-One Calls Not a “Meeting”

The Open Meetings Compliance Board issued a decision regarding a body reaching agreement via a series of one-to-one phone calls: those calls did not constitute an actual meeting, and did not violate the Open Meetings Act. The Maryland Open Meetings Act seeks to provide public access to decisions by public bodies. From the Attorney General's website: Maryland's Open Meetings Act is a statute that requires many State and local public bodies to hold their meetings…

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PIA Compliance Board Considers Expanding Scope; Seeks Public Comments

The Maryland Public Information Act Compliance Board (PIACB) and Public Access Ombudsman have issued a letter (2019-08-29) requesting public comment on the possible expansion of the PIACB's scope of duties. The PIACB is considering the expansion in response to .study request by the Maryland General Assembly in the General Assembly's 2019 Joint Chairmen's Report. Currently, the PIACB can decide whether a fee of $350 or more charged by a records custodian in response to  a…

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DHS releases CISA memo on Ransomware Outbreaks

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released a memo from the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warning of the dangers of ransomware outbreaks. Ransomware attacks are testing the resolve of cities across the nation, including the City of Baltimore. From the CISA Memo: The Threat and How to Think About It Ransomware has rapidly emerged as the most visible cybersecurity risk playing out across our nation’s networks, locking up private sector organizations…

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Tips on How to Recognize and Avoiding an Opioid Overdose

Dr. Gregory Branch, MD, MBA, CPE, FACP, Health Officer/Director, Baltimore County, led an intimate, hands-on approach on to how to save a life with Naloxone (NARCAN). Dr. Branch started the “Stayin’ Alive” Session by breaking down exactly what an opioid is, how to prevent an overdose, how to recognize an overdose, and how to respond to an overdose. Critical Tips for Preventing Opioid Overdoses: Keep all medicine in a safe place, such as a locked…

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Do You Follow These Tips When Conducting Meetings?

On the opening day of #MACoCon, Frederick County Council Member Jessica Fitzwater welcomed the audience to “Academy Core: Conducting Effective Meetings”. Council Member Fitzwater then introduced speaker Jack “Jay” Gallo. In his early twenties, Gallo stepped into the role of Mayor of New Windsor where he held the role for eight years. He is the past President of Maryland Municipal League, a certified parliamentarian, and the current Attorney for Taneytown, Rising Sun, Barnesville, and Poolesville.…

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Road Flooded, Power Out, No Cell Coverage? Your County Will Reach You.

Attendees at MACo's Summer Conference engage in a tabletop exercise on emergency communications and hear from a county whose been through the real thing. What if, when disaster hits, it hits in a rural area of your county with spotty cell phone coverage and no internet? That was the scenario that attendees of MACo’s Summer Conference session, Reaching Your Residents When Every Moment Counts tackled. Emergency managers, communications professionals, and others worked together in teams of…

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Public Information Act Training at 2019 Summer #MACoCon

Attendees to the 2019 MACo Summer Conference learned about the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) during the “Academy Core: Public Information Act” panel on August 14. Harford County District Court Judge David Carey highlighted the importance of the PIA and stressed the need for local government understanding and compliance. Carey discussed the guiding principles behind the PIA and noted that people who are not happy with a PIA outcome seek to amend the PIA law…

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It’s Not All About Getting High

Drones can do all sorts of things. In the words of one of today’s panelists on the MACo Summer Conference panel, The Underappreciated Upsides of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, a drone program is much like a cannabis business -- it’s not all about getting high. The six panelists from various county government agencies, state government, and the private sector shared many applications for county use, including: Surveying Construction monitoring Media, sharing county news with residents Communications and public…

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