Court Case Highlights Murky Area Between Discovery & the PIA

A Daily Record article (2019-05-09) highlighted the murky area that exists between the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) and discovery for a criminal or civil case. The article reported that Baltimore County has accused plaintiffs in an ongoing federal lawsuit against the County are trying to circumvent the normal discovery process by making PIA requests. The County has sent a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Chasanow asking for the Court's intervention. Court rules prohibit parties…

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Preemption, PIA, and “Green Amendment” Hot Topics for Maryland Government Attorneys

The State and Local Government Section of the Maryland State Bar Association met to discuss the 2019 General Assembly Session and legislation of interest in their practice area. At a regular meeting of the Maryland State Bar Association's section for State and local government attorneys, the group heard a review of the 2019 Session from Delegates Marc Korman and Trent Kittleman, MACo's Research Director Robin Clark Eilenberg, the Maryland Municipal League's Government Relations Manager Bill…

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Joanne Antoine Takes Lead at Common Cause MD

Common Cause MD has introduced their new Executive Director, Joanne Antoine. The "good government" organization Common Cause Maryland has announced its new Executive Director, Joanne Antoine. Antoine comes to the job with a wealth of experience working both within the organization as State Outreach and Engagement Manager, and with multiple campaigns and community organizations. From the Common Cause MD press release: “I am excited to continue Common Cause Maryland’s work here in the state,” commented…

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Keep Up to Date With Free Record Management Training

The Maryland State Archives and the Department of General Services are offering a free “Records Management 101” training session for records officers and administrative staff who assist with records management. The training session will review the processes of successful records management, including: Roles and Definitions of Records Management Retention Schedules Inventories Special Collections Transfer and Disposal The training will be offered on the following dates and at the following locations: Friday, June 7, 2019, at…

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City Council To Take Up Ethics Reforms

The Baltimore City Council will consider multiple possible changes to its ethics laws, including potential charter amendments. The Baltimore City Council is expected to receive and consider a range of ethics reform proposals, ranging from additional financial disclosures for City officials and employees, to altering the structure of the City Ethics Board. From coverage in the Baltimore Sun: The first round of legislation, sponsored by Councilman Ryan Dorsey, will be introduced at Monday evening’s council…

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2019 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 2019 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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2019 End of Session Wrap-Up: Information Technology

An overview of MACo’s advocacy on information technology issues in the 2019 General Assembly.  Information technology is a growing area of importance for MACo as county governments rely on computer systems of increasing sophistication for a widening scope of operations -- including public safety applications, open government portals, billing functions, and emergency alerts systems used during major natural and man-made emergencies. As county use of information technology evolves, cybersecurity and protection of resident data rise…

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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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