Difference between revisions of "Maryland Public Information Act"

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{{WikiFOIA (Sunshine Review)}}
 
{{WikiFOIA (Sunshine Review)}}
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The '''Maryland Public Information Act''' is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in [[Maryland]]. Maryland statutes 10-611 through 10-628  define the law.
 
The '''Maryland Public Information Act''' is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in [[Maryland]]. Maryland statutes 10-611 through 10-628  define the law.
  
The '''[[Maryland Open Meetings Act|Maryland Open Meetings Act]]''' legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.
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The '''[[Maryland Open Meetings Act|Maryland Open Meetings Act]]''' legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Statute 10–501 of the Annotated Code of Maryland define the law.
Statute 10–501 of the Annoted Code of Maryland define the law.
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To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see: [[Maryland FOIA procedures]]
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To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see [[Maryland FOIA procedures]].
  
 
==Relevant legal cases==
 
==Relevant legal cases==
: ''See also: [[Court cases with an impact on state FOIA]]''
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::''See also: [[Court cases with an impact on state FOIA]] and [[Maryland sunshine lawsuits]]''
Here is a list of lawsuits in Maryland.  For more information go the page or go to [[Maryland sunshine lawsuits]].
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Here is a list of relevant lawsuits in Maryland (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon to the right of the "year" heading).<br>
<br/>
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(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon below the '''Year''' heading)<br/><br/>
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{{Transparency litigation dpl|State = Maryland}}
 
{{Transparency litigation dpl|State = Maryland}}
  
 
==Proposed changes==
 
==Proposed changes==
:: ''See also [[Proposed transparency legislation, 2010]] or see sample [[proactive disclosure|transparency]] legislation at the [http://www.sunshinestandard.org Sunshine Standard]''
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::''See also: [[Proposed transparency legislation, 2010]]"
 +
 
 
===2011===
 
===2011===
: ''See also:[[Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2011]]''
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::''See also: [[Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2011]]''
 +
 
 
{{Proposed transparency legislation full table|State = Maryland|Year = 2011}}
 
{{Proposed transparency legislation full table|State = Maryland|Year = 2011}}
  
 
===2010===
 
===2010===
: ''See also:[[Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2010]]''
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::''See also: [[Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2010]]''
 
{{Previous year transparency legislation DPL|State=Maryland|Year=2010|NotYear = 2011}}
 
{{Previous year transparency legislation DPL|State=Maryland|Year=2010|NotYear = 2011}}
  
 
===2009===
 
===2009===
: ''Main article: [[Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2009 ]]''
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::''See also: [[Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2009 ]]''
Cheye Calvo, the mayor of [[Berwyn Heights, Maryland]] is lobbying for the Maryland legislature to pass a new bill that would require every SWAT team in the state to provide a monthly public report on its activities, including where and when it was deployed and whether an operation resulted in arrests, evidence seizures or injuries.  In the summer of 2008, Calvo's home was the subject of a mistaken and violent drug raid during which his two black labs were shot and killed by members of a police SWAT team.<ref>[http://www.reason.com/blog/show/131539.html ''Reason's Hit-and-Run'', "Maryland Bill Would Bring Transparency to Use of SWAT Teams", February 6, 2009]</ref>,<ref>[http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/04/AR2009020403772.html ''Washington Post'', "Bill Calls for More Scrutiny Of SWAT Teams by Police", February 5, 2009]</ref>
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Cheye Calvo, the mayor of [[Berwyn Heights, Maryland]], was lobbying for the Maryland legislature to pass a bill that would require every SWAT team in the state to provide a monthly public report on its activities, including where and when it was deployed and whether an operation resulted in arrests, evidence seizures or injuries.  In the summer of 2008, Calvo's home was the subject of a mistaken and violent drug raid during which his two black labs were shot and killed by members of a police SWAT team.<ref>[http://www.reason.com/blog/show/131539.html ''Reason's Hit-and-Run'', "Maryland Bill Would Bring Transparency to Use of SWAT Teams", February 6, 2009]</ref><ref>[http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/04/AR2009020403772.html ''Washington Post'', "Bill Calls for More Scrutiny Of SWAT Teams by Police", February 5, 2009]</ref>
  
 
==Maryland's transparency report card==
 
==Maryland's transparency report card==
A 2008 study, '''BGA - Alper Integrity Index''', conducted by the [[Better Government Association]] and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Maryland #9 in the nation with an overall percentage of 58.30%. <ref>[http://www.bettergov.org/2008_bga-alper_integrity_index_/ 2008 BGA-Alper Integrity Index]</ref>
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A 2008 study, '''BGA - Alper Integrity Index''', conducted by the [[Better Government Association]] and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Maryland #9 in the nation with an overall percentage of 58.30%.<ref>[http://www.bettergov.org/2008_bga-alper_integrity_index_/ 2008 BGA-Alper Integrity Index]</ref>
  
A 2007 study, '''Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests''', conducted by [[Better Government Association|BGA]] and the [[National Freedom of Information Coalition|NFOIC]], gave Maryland 62 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "D", and a ranking of 11 out of the 50 states.<ref>[http://nfoic.org/states-failing-foi-responsiveness States Failing FOI Responsiveness, National Freedom of Information Coalition, October 2007]</ref>
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A 2007 study, '''Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests''', conducted by [[Better Government Association|BGA]] and the [[National Freedom of Information Coalition|NFOIC]], gave Maryland 62 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "D" and a ranking of 11 out of the 50 states.<ref>[http://nfoic.org/states-failing-foi-responsiveness States Failing FOI Responsiveness, National Freedom of Information Coalition, October 2007]</ref>
  
 
A 2002 study, '''Freedom of Information in the USA''', conducted by [[Investigative Reporters and Editors|IRE]] and [[Better Government Association|BGA]], ranked Maryland's law as the 29th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "D+".<ref>[http://legacy.ire.org/foi/bga/ ''Freedom of Information in the USA'', 2002]</ref>
 
A 2002 study, '''Freedom of Information in the USA''', conducted by [[Investigative Reporters and Editors|IRE]] and [[Better Government Association|BGA]], ranked Maryland's law as the 29th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "D+".<ref>[http://legacy.ire.org/foi/bga/ ''Freedom of Information in the USA'', 2002]</ref>
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==Features of the law==
 
==Features of the law==
 
{{Compare states|Page=Sunshine variations}}: Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.
 
{{Compare states|Page=Sunshine variations}}: Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.
===<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[Declared legal intentions across the U.S.{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Declared legal intention]]</span>===
 
The Maryland Code does not have a clear statement of intention but does state that "All persons are entitled to have access to information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees."<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-612 Maryland Statute 10-612]</ref>
 
  
===<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[Defining public records{{! (Sunshine Review)}}What records are covered?]]</span>===
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===Declared legal intention===
Public records are defined by the Code of Maryland as documents in any form, made or received by a public body which pertain to government business. <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-611 Maryland Statute 10-611-G]</ref>
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::''See also: [[Declared legal intentions across the U.S.]]''
 +
The Maryland Code does not have a clear statement of intention, but does state that "all persons are entitled to have access to information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees."<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-612 Maryland Statute 10-612]</ref>
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 +
===What records are covered?===
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::''See also: [[Defining public records]]''
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Public records are defined by the Code of Maryland as documents in any form, made or received by a public body, which pertain to government business.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-611 Maryland Statute 10-611-G]</ref>
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====Exemptions====
 
====Exemptions====
 
Exceptions to Maryland's PIA include:
 
Exceptions to Maryland's PIA include:
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* Letters of reference (10-616-D)
 
* Letters of reference (10-616-D)
 
* Library records (10-616-E)
 
* Library records (10-616-E)
* Library or Museum donor information (10-616-F)
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* Library or museum donor information (10-616-F)
 
* Criminal records, only to prevent the solicitation of the individuals mentioned in the records (10-616-H)
 
* Criminal records, only to prevent the solicitation of the individuals mentioned in the records (10-616-H)
 
* Medical records (10-616-J)
 
* Medical records (10-616-J)
 
* Student information (10-616-K)
 
* Student information (10-616-K)
* "all photographs, videotapes or electronically recorded images of vehicles, vehicle movement records, personal financial information, credit reports, or other personal or financial data created, recorded, obtained by or submitted to the Maryland Transportation Authority or its agents or employees in connection with any electronic toll collection system or associated transaction system" <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/google_docs$/Google_Statutes/Statutes_Sept_09/gsg/10-616.pdf Maryland Statute 10-616-M]</ref>
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* "all photographs, videotapes or electronically recorded images of vehicles, vehicle movement records, personal financial information, credit reports, or other personal or financial data created, recorded, obtained by or submitted to the Maryland Transportation Authority or its agents or employees in connection with any electronic toll collection system or associated transaction system"<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/google_docs$/Google_Statutes/Statutes_Sept_09/gsg/10-616.pdf Maryland Statute 10-616-M]</ref>
 
* Personal information from the Motor Vehicle Administration (10-616-P)
 
* Personal information from the Motor Vehicle Administration (10-616-P)
 
* Arrest warrants, until the warrant is served or has been issued for at least 90 days (10-616-Q)
 
* Arrest warrants, until the warrant is served or has been issued for at least 90 days (10-616-Q)
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* Security information (10-617-G)
 
* Security information (10-617-G)
 
* Licensing information (10-617-H)
 
* Licensing information (10-617-H)
* Marriage Licenses (10-617-K)
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* Marriage licenses (10-617-K)
 
* Examination information (10-618-C)
 
* Examination information (10-618-C)
 
* Academic research (10-618-D, H)
 
* Academic research (10-618-D, H)
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* Attorney general investigation information (10-618-F)
 
* Attorney general investigation information (10-618-F)
 
* Information concerning the location of environmentally sensitive material (10-618-G)
 
* Information concerning the location of environmentally sensitive material (10-618-G)
<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-616 Maryland Statute 10-616]</ref> <ref>http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-617 Maryland Statute 10-617]</ref> <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-618 Maryland Statute 10-618]</ref>
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<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-616 Maryland Statute 10-616]</ref> <ref>http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-617 Maryland Statute 10-617]</ref><ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-618 Maryland Statute 10-618]</ref>
  
====[[Deliberative process exemption{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Deliberative process]]====
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====Deliberative process====
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::''See also: [[Deliberative process exemption]]''
  
===<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[Defining public body{{! (Sunshine Review)}}What agencies are covered?]]</span>===
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===What agencies are covered?===
All governing bodies and both the state and local level are covered by the Maryland Public Information Act.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-611  Maryland Statute 10-611]</ref>   
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::''See also: [[Defining public body]]''
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All governing bodies at both the state and local level are covered by the Maryland Public Information Act.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-611  Maryland Statute 10-611]</ref>   
  
It is interesting to note that Maryland law requires that if records are submitted to an incorrect department, then the custodian is required, within 10 days, to notify the person making the request and inform them of the correct department if known. <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-614 Maryland Statute 10-614-3]</ref>
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It is interesting to note that Maryland law requires that if records are submitted to an incorrect department, then the custodian is required, within 10 days, to notify the person making the request and inform them of the correct department if known.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-614 Maryland Statute 10-614-3]</ref>
  
====<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[Legislatures and transparency{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Legislature]]</span>====
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====Legislature====
:{{Passed}}
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::''See also: [[Legislatures and transparency]]''
The [[Maryland Public Information Act]] includes the state legislature in its definition of public body found at [http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-611  Maryland Statute 10-611], thus subjecting the legislature to the act.  
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The [[Maryland Public Information Act]] includes the state legislature in its definition of public body found at Maryland Statute 10-611, thus subjecting the legislature to the act.  
  
====[[Private agency, public dollars{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Privatized governmental agencies]]====
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====Privatized governmental agencies====
The Maryland Public Information Act includes all private entities which were created by a public entity, are controlled by a public entity or perform a public function.<ref>[[Private agency, public dollars-Maryland]]</ref>
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::''See also: [[Private agency, public dollars]] and [[Private agency, public dollars-Maryland]]''
 +
The Maryland Public Information Act includes all private entities that were created by a public entity, are controlled by a public entity or perform a public function.
  
====[[Universities and open records{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Public universities]]====
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====Public universities====
{{University records infobox|Status= Presumed Open|Research={{Yes (Sunshine Review)}} <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-618 Maryland Statute 10-618]-D, H.</ref>|Donors= |Examinations={{Yes (Sunshine Review)}} <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-618 Maryland Statute 10-618]-C </ref>|Materials= }}
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::''See also: [[Universities and open records]]''
The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. However, testing and exam material is explicitly exempt at Maryland Statute 10-618-C and academic research is exempted at Maryland Statute 10-618-D, H.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-618 Maryland Statute 10-618]</ref>
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The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. However, testing and exam material is explicitly exempt at Maryland Statute 10-618-C and academic research is exempted at Maryland Statute 10-618-D, H.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-618 Maryland Statute 10-618]</ref>
  
===<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[List of who can make public record requests by state{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Who may request records?]]</span>===
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===Who may request records?===
All people and governmental units are able to make public records requests unless otherwise indicated by statute. <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-613 Maryland Statute 10-613]</ref>
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::''See also: [[List of who can make public record requests by state]]''
 +
All people and governmental units are able to make public records requests unless otherwise indicated by statute.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-613 Maryland Statute 10-613]</ref>
  
===<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[States requiring a statement of purpose{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Must a purpose be stated?]]</span>===
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===Must a purpose be stated?===
There are not requirements concerning a statement of purpose. However, if the custodian of the records deems that inspection would go against the public interest, he or she may deny the record for up to ten days and petition for a court hearing to permanently exempt the record. <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-619 Maryland Statute 10-619]</ref>
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::''See also: [[States requiring a statement of purpose]]''
 +
There are not requirements concerning a statement of purpose. However, if the custodian of the records deems that inspection would go against the public interest, he or she may deny the record for up to ten days and petition for a court hearing to permanently exempt the record.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-619 Maryland Statute 10-619]</ref>
  
===<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[Record use restrictions{{! (Sunshine Review)}}How can records be used?]]</span>===
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===How can records be used?===
The use of criminal records for the solicitation of legal services is prohibited by law. <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-616 Maryland Statute 10-616]</ref>
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::''See also: [[Record use restrictions]]''
 +
The use of criminal records for the solicitation of legal services is prohibited by law.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-616 Maryland Statute 10-616]</ref>
 
   
 
   
===<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[Request response times by state{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Time allowed for response]]</span>===
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===Time allowed for response===
:'''''30 days'''''
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::''See also: [[Request response times by state]]''
Maryland law allows the department 30 days to either grant the materials or deny the request. <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/google_docs$/Google_Statutes/Statutes_Sept_09/gsg/10-614.pdf Maryland Statute 10-614-4-B]</ref>
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Maryland law allows the department 30 days to either grant the materials or deny the request.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/google_docs$/Google_Statutes/Statutes_Sept_09/gsg/10-614.pdf Maryland Statute 10-614-4-B]</ref>
 
+
  
 
===Fees for records===
 
===Fees for records===
====<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[How much do public records cost?{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Copy costs:]]</span>====
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====Copy costs====
The Maryland law allows departments to charge a reasonable fee for the cost of duplication.  Waivers are permitted considering the person requesting the documents financial status and the public interest in the release of the information. <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-621 Maryland Statute 10-621]</ref>
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::''See also: [[How much do public records cost?]]''
 +
The Maryland law allows departments to charge a reasonable fee for the cost of duplication.  Waivers are permitted considering the requester's financial status and the public interest in the release of the information.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-621 Maryland Statute 10-621]</ref>
  
====<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[Sunshine laws and search fees{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Search fees:]]</span>====
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====Search fees====
:{{Passed}}
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::''See also: [[Sunshine laws and search fees]]''
The Maryland law allows departments to charge fees for any staff time in excess of 2 hours involved in the search, compilation, or reproduction of materials. <ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-621 Maryland Statute 10-621]</ref>
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The Maryland law allows departments to charge fees for any staff time in excess of two hours involved in the search, compilation, or reproduction of materials.<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-621 Maryland Statute 10-621]</ref>
  
===<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[State records commissions{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Records commissions and ombudsmen:]]</span>===
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===Records commissions and ombudsmen===
:[[Maryland Records Management Division]]
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::''See also: [[State records commissions]]''
The [[Maryland Records Management Division]] was established by the [[Maryland Public Information Act]] in order to better assist the state in determining what records should be preserved for historical interest and what records should be destroyed. While they do not hold hearings or decided cases about open records violations, they do possess a considerable amount of historical power, shaping what records are preserved by the state and permitting the destruction of current records.
+
The [[Maryland Records Management Division]] was established by the [[Maryland Public Information Act]] in order to better assist the state in determining what records should be preserved for historical interest and what records should be destroyed. While they do not hold hearings or decide cases about open records violations, they do possess a considerable amount of historical power, shaping what records are preserved by the state and permitting the destruction of current records.
  
===<span style="border-bottom: 1px blue solid;">[[Role of the Attorney General{{! (Sunshine Review)}}Role of the Attorney General]]</span>===
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===Role of the Attorney General===
:[[Maryland Attorney General|Attorney General of Maryland]]
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::''See also: [[Role of the Attorney General]]''
The State Attorney General frequently issues opinions as to the applicability of the state's Public Information Act and issues guidelines to the various state agencies.
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The state Attorney General frequently issues opinions as to the applicability of the state's Public Information Act and issues guidelines to the various state agencies.
'''[http://www.oag.state.md.us/Opengov/Appendix_E.pdf Click here to view Opinions of the Attorney General on the Maryland Public Information Act]'''
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==Open meetings==
 
==Open meetings==
The purpose of the Maryland Open Meetings Act reads as follows: " It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that, except in special and appropriate circumstances:
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The purpose of the Maryland Open Meetings Act reads as follows: "It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that, except in special and appropriate circumstances:
 
(1)  public business be performed in an open and public manner; and
 
(1)  public business be performed in an open and public manner; and
(2)  citizens be allowed to observe: (i)the performance of public officials; and (ii)the deliberations and decisions that the making of public policy involves.".<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-501 ''Code of Maryland'']</ref>
+
(2)  citizens be allowed to observe: (i)the performance of public officials; and (ii)the deliberations and decisions that the making of public policy involves."<ref>[http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-501 ''Code of Maryland'']</ref>
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
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{{State sunshine laws}}
 
{{State sunshine laws}}
{{Maryland (Sunshine Review)}}
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{{Maryland}}
  
 
[[category:Maryland]]
 
[[category:Maryland]]
[[category:Public records in Maryland]]
 
 
[[category:WikiFOIA]]
 
[[category:WikiFOIA]]
[[category:Open records law]]
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[[Category:Open records law by state]]
[[Category:Sunshine Review pages]]
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Revision as of 07:52, 16 October 2013

WikiFOIA
Find your State
Sunshine Laws
Open Records laws
Open Meetings Laws
How to Make Records Requests
Sunshine Legislation
2010
Sorted by State, Year and Topic
Sunshine Litigation
Sorted by State, Year and Topic
Sunshine Nuances
Private Agencies, Public Dollars
Deliberative Process Exemption


The Maryland Public Information Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Maryland. Maryland statutes 10-611 through 10-628 define the law.

The Maryland Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Statute 10–501 of the Annotated Code of Maryland define the law.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see Maryland FOIA procedures.

Relevant legal cases

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA and Maryland sunshine lawsuits

Here is a list of relevant lawsuits in Maryland (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon to the right of the "year" heading).

Lawsuit Year
A. S. Abell Publishing Co. v. Mezzanote 1983
Belt v. Prince George's Co 1890
City of Baltimore Development Corporation v. Carmel Realty Associates 2006
City of New Carrollton v. Rogers 1980
Community and Labor United for Baltimore Charter Committee (CLUB) v. Baltimore City Board of Elections 2003
Faulk v. State's Attorney for Harford County 1984
Hamilton v. Verdow 1980
Pressman v. Elgin 1946


Proposed changes

See also: Proposed transparency legislation, 2010"

2011

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2011

We do not currently have any legislation for Maryland in 2011.


2010

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2010

We have no current bill pages for Maryland from 2010. This may be due to incomplete research.


2009

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2009

Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, was lobbying for the Maryland legislature to pass a bill that would require every SWAT team in the state to provide a monthly public report on its activities, including where and when it was deployed and whether an operation resulted in arrests, evidence seizures or injuries. In the summer of 2008, Calvo's home was the subject of a mistaken and violent drug raid during which his two black labs were shot and killed by members of a police SWAT team.[1][2]

Maryland's transparency report card

A 2008 study, BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Maryland #9 in the nation with an overall percentage of 58.30%.[3]

A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Maryland 62 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "D" and a ranking of 11 out of the 50 states.[4]

A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Maryland's law as the 29th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "D+".[5]

Features of the law

Sunshine variations Compare States: Sunshine variations
Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.

Declared legal intention

See also: Declared legal intentions across the U.S.

The Maryland Code does not have a clear statement of intention, but does state that "all persons are entitled to have access to information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees."[6]

What records are covered?

See also: Defining public records

Public records are defined by the Code of Maryland as documents in any form, made or received by a public body, which pertain to government business.[7]

Exemptions

Exceptions to Maryland's PIA include:

  • Adoption information (10-616-B)
  • Welfare information of an individual (10-616-C)
  • Letters of reference (10-616-D)
  • Library records (10-616-E)
  • Library or museum donor information (10-616-F)
  • Criminal records, only to prevent the solicitation of the individuals mentioned in the records (10-616-H)
  • Medical records (10-616-J)
  • Student information (10-616-K)
  • "all photographs, videotapes or electronically recorded images of vehicles, vehicle movement records, personal financial information, credit reports, or other personal or financial data created, recorded, obtained by or submitted to the Maryland Transportation Authority or its agents or employees in connection with any electronic toll collection system or associated transaction system"[8]
  • Personal information from the Motor Vehicle Administration (10-616-P)
  • Arrest warrants, until the warrant is served or has been issued for at least 90 days (10-616-Q)
  • Inspection records for renewable energy credits (10-616-T)
  • Surveillance images (10-616-U)
  • Trade secrets and valuable commercial information (10-617-D)
  • Personal contact information and financial information, excluding salaries, of state employees (10-617-E and F)
  • Security information (10-617-G)
  • Licensing information (10-617-H)
  • Marriage licenses (10-617-K)
  • Examination information (10-618-C)
  • Academic research (10-618-D, H)
  • Real estate appraisal for potential government acquisitions (10-618-E)
  • Attorney general investigation information (10-618-F)
  • Information concerning the location of environmentally sensitive material (10-618-G)

[9] [10][11]

Deliberative process

See also: Deliberative process exemption

What agencies are covered?

See also: Defining public body

All governing bodies at both the state and local level are covered by the Maryland Public Information Act.[12]

It is interesting to note that Maryland law requires that if records are submitted to an incorrect department, then the custodian is required, within 10 days, to notify the person making the request and inform them of the correct department if known.[13]

Legislature

See also: Legislatures and transparency

The Maryland Public Information Act includes the state legislature in its definition of public body found at Maryland Statute 10-611, thus subjecting the legislature to the act.

Privatized governmental agencies

See also: Private agency, public dollars and Private agency, public dollars-Maryland

The Maryland Public Information Act includes all private entities that were created by a public entity, are controlled by a public entity or perform a public function.

Public universities

See also: Universities and open records

The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. However, testing and exam material is explicitly exempt at Maryland Statute 10-618-C and academic research is exempted at Maryland Statute 10-618-D, H.[14]

Who may request records?

See also: List of who can make public record requests by state

All people and governmental units are able to make public records requests unless otherwise indicated by statute.[15]

Must a purpose be stated?

See also: States requiring a statement of purpose

There are not requirements concerning a statement of purpose. However, if the custodian of the records deems that inspection would go against the public interest, he or she may deny the record for up to ten days and petition for a court hearing to permanently exempt the record.[16]

How can records be used?

See also: Record use restrictions

The use of criminal records for the solicitation of legal services is prohibited by law.[17]

Time allowed for response

See also: Request response times by state

Maryland law allows the department 30 days to either grant the materials or deny the request.[18]

Fees for records

Copy costs

See also: How much do public records cost?

The Maryland law allows departments to charge a reasonable fee for the cost of duplication. Waivers are permitted considering the requester's financial status and the public interest in the release of the information.[19]

Search fees

See also: Sunshine laws and search fees

The Maryland law allows departments to charge fees for any staff time in excess of two hours involved in the search, compilation, or reproduction of materials.[20]

Records commissions and ombudsmen

See also: State records commissions

The Maryland Records Management Division was established by the Maryland Public Information Act in order to better assist the state in determining what records should be preserved for historical interest and what records should be destroyed. While they do not hold hearings or decide cases about open records violations, they do possess a considerable amount of historical power, shaping what records are preserved by the state and permitting the destruction of current records.

Role of the Attorney General

See also: Role of the Attorney General

The state Attorney General frequently issues opinions as to the applicability of the state's Public Information Act and issues guidelines to the various state agencies.

Open meetings

The purpose of the Maryland Open Meetings Act reads as follows: "It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that, except in special and appropriate circumstances: (1) public business be performed in an open and public manner; and (2) citizens be allowed to observe: (i)the performance of public officials; and (ii)the deliberations and decisions that the making of public policy involves."[21]

See also

External links

References