Both Governor and General Assembly to Examine State Ethics Laws

Ethics is likely to be a large focus of the General Assembly during the 2020 Session. Recently, several elected officials in Maryland have been the subject of investigations over ethics violations. In response legislative leadership and the Governor have both stated their intent to put forth ethics reform proposals, with the Governor electing to include it as the centerpiece of his legislative package. The Governor has declared the 2020 General Assembly Session the "Accountability Session".…

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State to Consider Tightening Public Information Timeframe

During the 2020 legislative session the General Assembly will assess the timeline for reporting under Maryland's Public Information Act (MPIA). Already pre-filed legislation would reduce the number of days government agencies have to provide requested documents from thirty down to seven.  Current State law affords agencies 30 business days to fulfill requests, making Maryland the most generous of the 39 states that have a set time-frame requirement. The other eleven states have vague language that…

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Olszewski names Director for New Office of Ethics and Acountability

Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski announced Thursday that former acting State Prosecutor Kelly Beckham Madigan will be Executive Director for the County's Office of Ethics and Accountability.  The newly created office is tasked with identifying fraud and abuse in county government. Once approved by the County Council, Madigan will start in January with early objectives of establishing a website and confidential reporting system. She will have both autonomy from the County Executive's Office and unrestricted…

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Preview the 2020 Session “Big Picture”

A compilation of Issue Papers previews major fiscal and policy issues facing the General Assembly in the year ahead. This resource is a handy guide to the top issues that your legislators will be tackling in 2020 – a great preparation document for county officials in advance of meetings with their local Delegations. Developed by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS), the 2020 Issue Papers are an annual staple for the Annapolis policy-inclined population. They are also…

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Legalized Cannabis, Public Information Act Among Issues Discussed at 2019 MACo Attorneys Conference

County attorneys and legal staff from across the state attended the 2019 MACo Attorneys Conference on November 13. The annual conference allows county legal staff to receive important policy updates and discuss emerging legal challenges. Attendees heard updates on: (1) Maryland's Public Information Act; (2) Open Meetings Act; (3) recent Attorney General opinions; (4) human resource and liability issues posed by legalized cannabis; (5) sheriff and deputy sheriff liability issues; (6) 2019 interim issues; and…

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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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