2020 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES    

Give Marylanders fair and open access to government-funded data and information through three key updates to the Maryland Public Information Act


HB 502 – Public Information Act – Revisions 

sponsored by Delegate Lierman


The bill builds on the successful implementation of the Public Information Act Compliance Board and the Ombudsman programs begun in 2015. It provides the PIA Compliance Board with comprehensive jurisdiction to review and decide PIA disputes that are not resolved through mediation with the Ombudsman. The bill also requires custodians to adopt a policy of proactive records disclosure, and to annually track and report information about their PIA requests and responses.


This proposed legislation—especially the provisions expanding the Board’s jurisdiction—would implement the primary recommendations in the Ombudsman and Board’s recently published Final Report on the Public Information Act.  As stated in the Report, providing the Board with comprehensive jurisdiction in this way is expected to improve the PIA dispute-resolution process by both enhancing the Ombudsman’s mediation program, and by providing an accessible administrative process for reviewing and deciding matters that can’t be solved through mediation alone..


  

HB 401 – Open Government, Better Government Act 

Sponsored by Delegate Barron


The bill focuses on judicial records, clearly putting them in the category of public records. It increases the jurisdiction of the PIA Compliance board to hear disputes regarding fee waivers and fees above $200. It would prohibit the redaction or coding of judges’ names presiding over open proceedings. Further, the bill provides a definition of “public interest,” and requires a fee waiver for requests by indigent persons, inmates, and representatives of the news media under certain conditions.


  

HB 42 - Applications for Inspection – Responses and Time Limits 

Sponsored by Delegate Guyton

 
The bill focuses on judicial records, clearly putting them in the category of public records. It increases the jurisdiction of the PIA Compliance board to hear disputes regarding fee waivers and fees above $200. It would prohibit the redaction or coding of judges’ names presiding over open proceedings. Further, the bill provides a definition of “public interest,” and requires a fee waiver for requests by indigent persons, inmates, and representatives of the news media under certain conditions.