Time for reform
Gov. Larry Hogan recently 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 said 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 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.”
Hogan has pledged to hold the all of state government to the highest ethical standards. 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. Hogan’s Integrity in Government Initiative includes: • Public Integrity Act of 2017, which places restrictions on both the executive and legislative branches to eliminate conflicts of interest. 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, which makes key reforms to open up state government and use technology to make the legislative process more accessible to citizens. The proposal requires that all meetings of the General Assembly be live streamed.
• Liquor Board Reform Act of 2017, which will remove county political party central committees from the nominating process. It requires the county’s senators to submit a formal nomination, subject to oversight from the State Ethics Commission.
• Redistricting Reform Act of 2017, to institute a nonpartisan redistricting process to ensure free and fair elections in Maryland and stop gerrymandering.
“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,” Hogan said. “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.”
We agree and hope these proposals pass.