Analysis: The current Public Information Act is difficult to follow with seemingly competing timelines throughout, but it’s generally understood to give record holders 10 working days after receiving an inspection request to send an initial response, either providing the information, explaining a delay or denying the request for reasons allowable under law. The agency has up to 30 calendar days to send a final response, though that can be extended another 30 days if the applicant agrees. This bill shortens the initial response time to five days, and the final response time to seven days, with a possible extension of seven days. In the news business, it would seem a no-brainer to just say “Yes! Do it!” But the biggest problem journalists face is not so much the length of the timeline as it is the simple fact that some agencies just don’t comply with the law. The Maryland State Police, for example, only met the initial response deadline 11% of the time, according to a recent PIA report. And denials often feel arbitrary. Still, we understand limited resources, and that turnaround time seems very tight, especially for agencies that get many requests, and it carries significant costs (roughly $2 million per year for the state). Agencies should simply comply with the spirit and letter of the current law, handing over the easy stuff immediately when they can, and following the rules when they can’t.