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New laws take effect in Maryland

September 30, 2016

Student Press Protections (New Voices Act):  (Ch 229) Sponsored by Senator Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery), this law protects Maryland students from censorship and teachers from retaliation while creating "school-sponsored media" which includes "any material that is prepared, written, published, or broadcast by a student journalist at a public school" under the advisement of a school advisor and generally available to the students at the school.  The law specifically states that students enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of the press in these settings, except when content is libelous, an invasion of privacy, a clear incitement to unlawful conduct, or violates state or federal law.  This law rolls back Hazelwood in Maryland to the Tinker standard and affects ALL Maryland students, from K-college.  Along with MDDC, the Student Press Law Center and Maryland Scholastic Press Association were the key players in lobbying for this bill.  There is a movement in several states to enact similar legislation.  Maryland joins 8 other states in this standard. 

Agenda requirement:  (Ch 255) Sponsored by Delegate Krebs, public bodies must now make an agenda available before each meeting, as soon as possible but not later than 24 hours before the meeting occurs.  If it is an emergency meeting, the agenda must be available on request within a reasonable time after the meeting occurs.  Agenda must include “known items of business or topics to be discussed at the portion of the meeting that is open” and must indicate if the body expects to close portions of the meeting. 

Posting and Retention of Minutes and Recordings:  (Ch 330) Sponsored by Delegate Saab, this law requires public bodies to post minutes or recordings online as soon as practical.  Public bodies must keep minutes and any recordings for at least five years (increased from mandated 1 year) although a body’s own retention policies may impose a longer period.

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