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Bill to limit public records access advances in Maryland

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  1. Freedom of Information
A bill introduced under the Public Information Act in Baltimore City is being referred to the subcommittee for amendments in…

A bill introduced under the Public Information Act in Baltimore City is being referred to the subcommittee for amendments in the Maryland Legislature.

The bill attempts to block access to information under the Maryland Public Information Act by requiring anyone seeking information from a state or local government agency relating to a pending lawsuit to obtain a court order first.

When the bill was first introduced, media groups and lawyers were up in arms, contending that it was too broad and gave the state permission to choose what would be considered public information and what they didn’t have to release.

As the law stands now, the burden is on the government to prove why a request must be denied; if the bill is passed, however, the burden will be on the public to prove to a judge why the information should be released.

Prior to the bill being referred to a subcommittee, amendments were made but not added by Mayor Sheila Dixon’s administration. The amendments included a requirement that the government office involved in the law suit must file a petition to not release the information. This amendment would have a similar goal as the current bill, but the burden would remain on the government and not the public.  

No hearings have been scheduled.