On March 2, MACo Associate Director Les Knapp and Talbot County Council Member Laura Price testified in support of SB 948, which would modify financial disclosure reporting requirements for local elected officials and board of education members so that the reporting requirements are more commensurate with the scope of their authority and power. The MACo speakers joined the bill’s sponsor, Senator Jamie Raskin, and a panel of MML and municipal representatives in presenting the bill before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
In its testimony, MACo argued that the bill’s financial disclosure provisions would better acknowledge the differing power levels and geographic scope of State and local governmental units while still preserving the public’s ability to detect potential conflicts. The bill would also lessen the risk of driving away qualified local candidates by striking an appropriate balance between an individual’s right to privacy versus the public’s right to be apprised of potential conflicts of interest.
As reported in a March 2 WYPR radio Maryland Morning blog post, Senator Raskin is the chair of a Senate Special Committee on Ethics Reform that has spent several months studying and proposing ethics reform measures for the General Assembly. The Special Committee was formed in part because of the activities of the recently censured State Senator Ulysses Currie. The blog post also contains a link to a radio interview on the Senator Currie issue and the Special Committee’s recommendations.
The House version of the bill is HB 1177, sponsored by Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. HB 1177 will be heard by the House Environmental Matters Committee on March 6 and MACo will also be testifying in support of the bill.