ANNAPOLIS- The Maryland Young Republicans today introduced a legislative package designed to bring more transparent government and stricter ethics laws to Maryland Government.
“For far too long, ethics laws in Maryland have been flaunted by elected officials who have exploited loopholes for persona and political gain,” Maryland Young Republicans Chairman Brian Griffiths said. “Young Marylanders want to ensure that their elected leaders are held to the highest ethical and moral standards possible. We should expect nothing but the strictest compliance with ethics laws so that Maryland has government that is both open and clean.”
Maryland’s ethics laws have come under fire for their lack of stringencies, and for the loopholes that allow for legislators to lobby government agencies on behalf of Maryland companies. Two recent events have highlighted the laxness of these ethics laws; the recent acquittal of State Senate Budget Committee Chairman Ulysses Currie on charges of failing to disclose his lobbying for a supermarket chain, and this disclosure that several legislators, including House Environmental Matters Committee Chairman Maggie McIntosh, are using their legislative positions to solicit business for their lobbying firm.
The Maryland Young Republicans Legislative Ethics Reform Proposal consists of a seven-point platform:
Real-time disclosures: Require legislators, appointees, and all relevant officials to file financial disclosures for the current legislative period. Currently the forms are not due until a year after the previous legislative session.
Electronic Databases: Electronic access to financial disclosure forms for the public. Create an online database with downloadable PDFs of financial disclosure forms.
Notifications: Eliminate notification of filer when someone looks up their disclosure form.
Conflicts of Interest: Alter campaign finance laws to prohibit committees from using vendor companies that are owned wholly or in part by other legislators. Or is another legislator is employed by that vendor.
Lobbyist Disclosures: Enhance lobbying disclosure requirements, require:
- Bills/regulations they are lobbying for or against
Clients for which they are lobbying and their position on bills/regulations;
Legislators they lobbied;
How much spent per client;
Submit log of dates and times of contacts with legislators, state officials;
Sunset Period: Prohibit legislators, legislative staff, and executive branch staff from lobbying on state issues for a period of five years after their employment with the state ends.
Budget Databases: Require the Department of Budget and Management to:
- Create searchable database of any entity receiving state loans in excess of $10,000. (SB 389/HB 638 from 2011 session).
Create a searchable database (dating back to FY 2008) any state payments exceeding $1,000 to entities designated 501c3 or 501c4 by the Internal Revenue Service
“Ethics reform is the only way that the citizens of Maryland can feel secure that our government is being run by people putting the best interests of the people of Maryland before the interests of their personal financial growth,” Griffiths said.