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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Anne Arundel Aspires for Accessible Accountability

An Anne Arundel County news release (2018-09-17) announced that County Executive Steve Schuh is proposing a series of ethics reforms for the County. The reforms would address ethics training, gift restrictions, penalties for lobbying violations, and the law's applicability to County board and commission members. From the news release: Our citizens deserve a fair, honest, and transparent government. These reforms will ensure that we instill the highest ethical standards across Anne Arundel County. - Anne…

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Senate Committee Hears Local Government Body Camera & PIA Concerns

MACo Legal & Policy Counsel Les Knapp testified before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee about the need for reforming the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) to better address the release of police body camera footage. The September 13th briefing also included testimony from representatives from the Maryland Municipal League (MML) and the ACLU of Maryland. Addressing police body camera issues under the PIA has been a MACo legislative initiative for the last…

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Governor: “No Plans” To Take Homes for I-270

Governor Larry Hogan has assured protestors and concerned citizens that his plans to improve traffic conditions along I-270 and the Beltway will not result in any eminent domain affecting residents' homes. WTOP reports: At a news conference in Annapolis on Tuesday, the governor repeated what he told a group of concerned citizens at a Labor Day parade in Kensington: “The state has no plans that show anybody’s houses being taken,” he said. Maryland's State Highway…

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PIA Compliance Board Considers Inmate Access, Commercial Requests at Annual Meeting

The Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) Compliance Board held its annual meeting on August 7, 2018, and considered several issues related to the PIA, including inmate access to information and commercial requests. MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp attended the meeting. The Board has authority to determine whether PIA fees greater than $350 are reasonable and can reduce or eliminate them if the Board finds the fees are unreasonable (the PIA law allows for…

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This Israeli Start-Up Could Help Your County Keep The Water Running

Cybersecurity solutions protect critical county infrastructure, including water systems. County governments are responsible for numerous public services, many of them increasingly dependent on systems vulnerable to cyber attack. Now an Israeli start-up focused on industrial cybersecurity could help your county safeguard water systems that your residents rely on. At this year's MACo Summer Conference Tech Expo, hear from TJ Roe, VP Sales North America of Radiflow Ltd., a Tel Aviv-based industrial cybersecurity company that closed…

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IRS to 501(c)s: Keep Your Irrelevant Donor Data

The IRS has announced that it is no longer requiring 501(c) organizations, other than 501(c)(3) charitable non-profits, to report lists of their donors. The new rule means that issue advocacy groups, labor unions, veterans groups, political organizations, and other 501(c) non-profits will no longer have to  proactively disclose their contributors to the IRS. The change does not affect 501(c)(3)s, as the IRS still needs the lists of donors entitled to claim charitable income tax deductions.…

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Local Media File Amicus Brief Challenging Baltimore’s Police Misconduct Non-Disclosure Agreements

A Baltimore Brew article (2018-06-01) reported that the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 19 news organizations, including the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and the Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association, have filed an amicus brief supporting a case challenging the validity of Baltimore City's use of non-disclosure agreements when settling police misconduct cases. The case could set a precedent for any local government that utilizes a non-disclosure agreement as part of a settlement and could potentially apply to other situations…

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