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Maryland Open Meetings Act
The Maryland Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Title 10, subtitle 5 of the Maryland code define the law.
Relevant legal cases
- See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA
Here is a list of open meetings lawsuits in Maryland. For more information go the page or go to Maryland sunshine lawsuits.
(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon to the right of the Year heading)
|City of Baltimore Development Corporation v. Carmel Realty Associates||2006|
|Community and Labor United for Baltimore Charter Committee (CLUB) v. Baltimore City Board of Elections||2003|
Proposed open meetings legislation
We do not currently have any legislation for Maryland in 2010.
Statement of purpose
The statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states,
- It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that, except in special
and appropriate circumstances:
- public business be performed in an open and public manner; and
- citizens be allowed to observe:
- the performance of public officials; and
- the deliberations and decisions that the making of public policy
- The ability of the public, its representatives, and the media to attend,
report on, and broadcast meetings of public bodies and to witness the phases of the deliberation, policy formation, and decision making of public bodies ensures the accountability of government to the citizens of the State.
- The conduct of public business in open meetings increases the faith of the
public in government and enhances the effectiveness of the public in fulfilling its role in a democratic society.
- Except in special and appropriate circumstances when meetings of public bodies
may be closed under this subtitle, it is the public policy of the State that the public be provided with adequate notice of the time and location of meetings of public bodies, which shall be held in places reasonably accessible to individuals who would like toattend these meetings.
Which government meetings are open to the public?
The law states that a meeting is a gathering of a quorum of the public body for the transaction of public business.
Notable exemptions to this definition include:
- public bodies acting in an administrative, judicial or quasi-judicial capacity unless the public body is meeting to discuss:
- granting a license or permit
- zoning laws
- chance encounters or social gatherings
What government bodies are subject to the laws?
The act defines government body as any entity consisting of 2 individuals created by state or local law or executive order. The act specifically includes all committees appointed by the executive office, especially if they include at least two members not employed by the state and the Maryland School for the Blind.
Notable exemptions to the definition of public body include:
- single member entities
- judicial nominating commission
- petit or grand juries
- Appalachian States Low Level Radioactive Waste Commission
- The judicial system, except when asserting rule making powers
- The Governor's cabinet and executive counsel
- Local executive cabinets
- Hospital governing bodies
- a self-assurance pool
The legislature falls under the definition of public body found at Maryland Open Meetings Act 10-502.H and is subject to the Maryland Open Meetings Act.
The act requires that all public bodies provide appropriate notice in writing by posting at a local office and contacting any news agencies that have requested to be provided notice.
Anyone is entitle to attend and record public meetings. The public body must also take minutes which shall include all topics discussed and all votes taken during the meeting. Minutes for executive sessions must be released for public inspection upon the completion of the business discussed in executive sessions.
|Common executive session exemptions|
|Personal privacy (including employees)|
|Purchase or sale of property|
|Exempt under other laws|
Public bodies may meet in closed session, with a majority vote from the members present, for the following reasons:
- Personnel matters that include, among other things, discussions of employment, termination, complaints, and promotion
- Protect individual privacy, when not related to public business
- when considering the purchase or sale of properties
- business proposals
- investment and marketing of public funds
- Attorney-client privilege and consultations on pending litigation
- collective bargaining
- to discuss security measures
- to discuss and administer licensing and qualifying exams
- conducting investigations on criminal misconduct
- comply with a judicial order
- Bid proposal strategy
If an individual feels that a violation has occurred, the must file suit with circuit court within 45 days of discovering the violation. If a court finds a violation of the law, it may assess fines to individual board members, not to exceed $100 per violation, assess attorney fees and void any action taken by the public agency in question during a meeting in violation of the law.
Open Meetings Compliance Board
The State Open Meetings Compliance Board is composed of three members, one of whom must be a lawyer, appointed by the governor for three year terms. The board is responsible for reviewing open meetings complaints and violations, reviewing the law and making recommendations to the legislature and developing education programs for informing public bodies about the law. The board will report to the office of the governor once a year.
Anyone may file a complaint with the board. The board will then notify the public agency in question, which will in turn have 30 days to respond to the allegation. The board must decide the case within 30 days of receiving the public agencies response or within 45 days of the original complaint, if the public body fails to respond.
State of Maryland
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Comptroller | Treasurer | Superintendent of Education | Commissioner of Insurance | Secretary of Agriculture | Secretary of Natural Resources | Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation | Chairman of Public Service Commission |