House approves changes to Open Meetings Act

The House of Delegates in a 125-10 vote Tuesday approved changes in the Open Meetings Act to boost penalties and establish other requirements. But one delegate complained that the changes didn't go far enough, and would penalize the citizens it was designed to help.

Proposals to reinforce Open Meetings compliance face hearing

Bills to increase compliance with the Open Meetings Act by public bodies in Maryland and stiffen penalties for violating the law will get a hearing Thursday afternoon in the House Health and Government Operations Committee. One of the bills, sponsored by Del. Dan Morhaim who chairs the Government Operations Subcommittee, is significantly different than what initially reported in January.

Penalties for closed meetings have bipartisan support

Del. Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, introduced a bill Thursday that grants additional enforcement powers to the Open Meetings Compliance Board, allowing it to levy fines and provide court testimony against government bodies that illegally deny people access to public events. This bipartisan legislation, HB331, has 18 co-sponsors, including House Majority Leader Kumar Barve and 10 other Democrats and Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell and six other Republicans.

Legislation would create fines for violating Open Meetings Act

Del. Dan Morhaim, chairman of the Government Operations subcommittee, plans on introducing a bill to beef up the regulatory powers of the Open Meetings Compliance Board, allowing it to fine public bodies for illegally closing meetings. The civil penalties could be up to $1,000 for the first offense and up to $10,000 for a third offense.