Hearing Held On Bill To Change The Open Meetings Act In Md.

It’s sponsored by Frederick County Delegate April Miller.

Annapolis, Md (KM) A hearing was held on Wednesday in the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee on a bill to expand the state’s open meetings law to committees and task forces established by local board of education. The legislation is sponsored by Frederick County Delegate April Miller. It was “a brief hearing where we explained the purpose of the bill. There was really no one otherwise testifying against it. I think the Maryland Association of School Boards. There were a couple of written testimony. But other than that, it went well,” she said.

Miller says she proposed the legislation follows  a decision by a citizens committee established by the Frederick County Board of Education to review 35 books that some residents  want removed from school library shelves  to meet behind closed doors. . She says her bill, if it passes, will enhance transparency when it comes to all public schools in Maryland. “Any committee or task force that is formed by either FCPS or the Board of Education to review particular things like textbooks, library books, curriculum, things of high public interest like that will be subject to the open meetings act,” Miller says.

There is no requirements for committees or task forces such as these to hold public meetings.

Miller said citizens should be allowed to attend these meetings, or watch them on line. She said it’s important for citizens to view  these meetings, even if there is no public comments being taken. “It’s really helpful to hear people talk things out, to have the discussions, to see the back and forth versus just getting a paper report after the fact,” Miller says.

Miller is a former member of the Frederick County Board of Education. She says this law would not prevent school boards from meeting in executive session to discuss issues such as personnel matters, contract negotiations and consulting with legal counsel.

If the bill passes, it would cover the entire state of Maryland, not just Frederick County.

The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on this legislation at a later date. The 2023 General Assembly adjourns for the year on April 10th.

By Kevin McManus