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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Why Abuse Victims Are Calling County Finance Officers…

County finance offices might start receiving requests for help - from victims of domestic abuse, to shield their real addresses on their tax records. Last session, the General Assembly passed HB 633, Secretary of State – Address Confidentiality Programs – Shielding of Real Property Records. Among other things, the bill authorizes a participant in the Address Confidentiality Program for victims of domestic violence or the Human Trafficking Address Confidentiality Program (referred to collectively as ACP) to…

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Montgomery Council’s Twitter Account May Have Been Briefly Hacked

A Bethesda Beat article (2018-05-29) reported that Montgomery County Council staff believe the Council's twitter account was hacked after a questionable message was posted by the account on May 29. The issue highlights the challenge county governments face in providing communication platforms that are easy for the public to access but also secure from outside tampering. The article indicated that one tweet was briefly posted questioning different media accounts about the death toll caused by Hurricane Maria…

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Baltimore City Commissioner Resigns Amidst Tax Charges

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa has resigned, following the announcement that federal prosecutors have charged him with failure to file federal income tax returns from 2013 to 2015. Mayor Pugh has announced a national search for his replacement, while Deputy Commissioner Gary Tuggle will serve as acting commissioner. It has not been reported whether De Sousa also failed to file his state income tax returns, but it seems a logical assumption - meaning…

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Round-up of the 2018 Session for Counties

MACo’s legislative efforts earned an 80% success rate – and as usual, the counties’ voice makes a difference in Annapolis. Bills we support are more likely to pass, and bills we oppose are more likely to fail. MACo’s legislative initiatives, priorities, and positions are directed by its Legislative Committee. This body comprises elected representatives from all of MACo’s members – the 24 county jurisdictions (including Baltimore City). The “one county, one vote” system of deciding…

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2018 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 for the 2018 Regular Session. Public Information Act – Body Camera Footage & Personal Contact Information: HB 1638 / SB 788 would make several updates and changes to the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA). The bill addresses government accountability, privacy rights, and protections for governments from abusive record requests. The bill would: define “personal surveillance video” to…

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Conduit Street Podcast: Post-Crossover Roundup, School Construction, School Safety, and More!

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson provide listeners with a roundup of MACo's 2018 Legislative Initiatives, as well as a host of other bills MACo has weighed in on this year, discuss the latest on school construction, and examine the debate on school safety. MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to…

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