Maryland legislature revamps public information law

Obtaining documents from government agencies in Maryland is no simple task. The process typically involves filing a written request under the state's Public Information Act and waiting up to 30 days — but can also lead to disputes over photocopying fees, redacted details or outright denials.

Reporters, lawyers, nonprofits and others have long had only one way to resolve disputes: in the courts.

Until now. The General Assembly, which ended Monday, approved legislation that establishes a public information compliance board and an ombudsman position to mediate complaints. The board will primarily handle complaints when government agencies charge fees above $350. The ombudsman will attempt to resolve disputes about redacted information, untimely responses, overly broad requests and denials. Continue>>>