May 28, 2024
Annapolis, US 80 F

Hogan introduces ethics reform bills

Larry Hogan
Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan

Standing on the steps of the historic Maryland State House, Governor Larry Hogan unveiled a series of sweeping ethics reform proposals to target conflicts of interest and corruption among state officials, increase transparency and public access to state government, and reform the county liquor board nominating process following a string of fraud and bribery scandals. In addition to these ethics-related proposals, the governor affirmed that he will again push to end partisan gerrymandering and finally ensure free and fair elections for all Marylanders through nonpartisan redistricting reform.

These announcements come in the wake of former, current, and prospective members of the Maryland General Assembly, as well as local officials, being indicted on federal and state charges in connection to their public or elected position.  

“Maryland has not had comprehensive ethics reforms in 15 years, and Marylanders are now asking how many more public officials have to be indicted before we are finally going to take the actions necessary to clean up this mess,” said Governor Hogan. “Today, we are announcing our Integrity in Government Initiative, which is a multi-faceted effort to strengthen and toughen our state ethics laws in order to restore the public’s trust in our state government and to finally bring some transparency, accountability, and fairness to Annapolis.”

During his campaign for governor and in his inaugural address, Governor Hogan pledged to hold the all of state government to the highest ethical standards. His first executive order outlined strict standards of conduct for the governor’s executive staff and all executive branch employees. From the start, the Hogan administration has taken action to root out corruption across the state, including partnering with federal law enforcement agencies in an extensive investigation into the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services that resulted in 80 indictments of corrections officers, state employees, and inmates.

“We cannot allow the unethical behavior of the few to tarnish the goodwill of the many in our state capital,” said the governor. “We cannot allow a culture of corruption to take root and to grow in our state. Together, we have a shared obligation to restore the honor and the foundation of public trust that these proud institutions once held.”

Governor Hogan’s Integrity in Government Initiative includes:

Public Integrity Act of 2017 – This centerpiece of the governor’s initiative places common sense restrictions on both the executive and legislative branches to eliminate conflicts of interest that erode trust in public officials. The proposal prohibits legislators from pushing or effecting legislation that directly benefits their employer or a business they own, prohibits executive branch staff and legislative staff from lobbying for one year after they leave state service, and prohibits any individual employed by a lobbying firm from being appointed to a state board or commission. This legislation also reforms current ethics oversight in the state to give the State Ethics Commission oversight over all elected officials and registered lobbyists and consultants.

Legislative Transparency Act of 2017 – This proposed legislation makes key reforms to open up state government and leverage technology to make the legislative process more accessible to citizens. The proposal requires that all meetings of the General Assembly be livestreamed, which is done in all but seven states in the nation. The governor’s FY 2018 budget includes $1.2 million to fund the livestreaming.

Liquor Board Reform Act of 2017 – In the wake of recent corruption allegations and indictments involving liquor board members and elected officials, Governor Hogan’s proposed reforms will put professional regulators on liquor boards and end the current political patronage system. The legislation removes county political party central committees from the nominating process and requires the county’s senators to submit a formal nomination, subject to oversight from the State Ethics Commission.

Redistricting Reform Act of 2017 – Governor Hogan will again push to institute a nonpartisan redistricting process to ensure free and fair elections in Maryland, home to some of the most gerrymandered districts in the nation. The legislation echoes the administration’s 2016 proposal, which was not advanced by the General Assembly despite support from an overwhelming majority of Marylanders.

“I strongly believe that we must do whatever it takes to restore honesty and integrity to our state capital, to ensure that the best interests of Maryland’s citizens are being represented fairly and honestly, and that the voices of the people we represent are finally being heard,” said Governor Hogan. “The people of Maryland are sick and tired of politics as usual, and they are completely fed up with the status quo. The time for action is now. The time to finally clean up the mess in Annapolis is now. The time to restore integrity to our state capital is now.”

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