November 14, 2011 •
Revisions to ethics laws approved
HOWARD COUNTY, MARYLAND: County Council approved revisions to the county ethics laws, making Howard one of the first local governments to approve the new standards mandated by the General Assembly last year.
The changes provide more detail in the county ethics laws regarding gifts, financial disclosure statements and lobbying provisions. The bill also expands the role of the county’s ethics commission by requiring it to maintain an annual report of lobbying activity.
Former County Council members will be banned from lobbying on legislative issues for a year after leaving office, and former employees will be prohibited from bidding on a county contract for which they helped write specifications.
October 24, 2011 •
Maryland and South Dakota
MARYLAND: The Maryland General Assembly adjourned the special session to approve a congressional redistricting plan on October 20.
SOUTH DAKOTA: State lawmakers convened a special session on Monday, October 24. The purpose of the special session was to redraw the boundaries of the state’s voting districts.
October 18, 2011 •
August 2, 2011 •
Public Hearing Scheduled
The Frederick County Board of Commissioners voted to have a public hearing for a new ethics ordinance which, among other things, would no longer require lobbyists to disclose their annual income.
Based on one of the state’s recommended models for local ethics laws for counties and cities, the ordinance drew concerns by commissioners that the requirements for lobbyists could be weaker than those currently in place. As an example, Frederick County’s requirements for registration and reporting for grassroots lobbying are not included in the proposed ordinance, which would supersede the current law.
The public hearing has been scheduled for September 6.
July 19, 2011 •
City Council Ordinance
New ethics regulations have been introduced by the Laurel, Maryland City Council, including provisions related to lobbyists.
Observing Maryland’s state ethics regulations for municipalities, the introduced ordinance requires lobbyists to file reports twice a year for each entity they represent. Lobbyists failing to file timely reports could be assessed a late fee of $10 per day up to a maximum of $250. Further enforcement of violations by lobbyists could include additional fines up to $5,000 per offense and suspension of lobbyist registration.
The bill also includes financial reporting requirements for public officials, hiring practices regulations, and rules regarding conflicts of interest.
Map of Maryland by Arkyan on Wikipedia.
May 23, 2011 •
Directly to Shareholders or Link From Homepage
Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill which requires corporations to disclose to shareholders the dates and amounts of political independent expenditures and the candidate or ballot issue to which the expenses related, or post a link to this information from its homepage.
All entities making an aggregate independent expenditure of $10,000 or more in an election cycle will be required to file reports detailing information such as the identities of those making, or those exercising direction or control over those making, the independent expenditures. Included in the report must be the identity of each person who made cumulative donations in excess of $51 to the entity making the independent expenditure. Entities include corporations, partnerships, committees, associations, and labor organizations.
The law redefines independent expenditure to mean expressly advocating the success or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or ballot issue. Separate and distinct from the definition of independent expenditure, the law also defines electioneering communications to cover expenditures for broadcasts made within 60 days of an election. Based on the amount of money spent and the size of the audience of the broadcast, separate and additional disclosure reports may be required for electioneering communications.
The new law takes effect December 1.
March 4, 2011 •
Delegate Introduces Bill
Delegate Dan Morhaim has introduced a bill with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of Maryland’s procurement process. House Bill 628 would create a commission to study streamlining and increasing the efficiency of the state’s contracting procedures.
Among the goals of the commission would be a more uniform application of the procurement law and an increased centralization of the procurement system. The membership of the commission would include individuals from private sector industries such as technology, construction, commodities, and other professional services.
The commission’s one year term would end with a report of its findings and recommendations to both the Governor and the General Assembly.
February 2, 2011 •
Lobbying Exceptions Provided
Delegate Anthony J. O’Donnell introduced a bill creating a cooling off period for executive branch officials who wish to lobby upon leaving office. House Bill 0027 would prohibit former state and public officials of the executive branch from lobbying, or assisting in lobbying, for compensation in matters of legislative action for a period of one year after leaving employment.
The bill provides an exception permitting the former officials to lobby for a municipal corporation, county, or state governmental entity.
Photo of the Maryland Statehouse in Annapolis by Thisisbossi on Wikipedia.
January 10, 2011 •
County Executive offers Rules
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker is proposing the General Assembly pass an ethics law prohibiting local council members from reviewing land use cases where there has been no appeal. Currently, when a planning board has decided an outcome, and there is no appeal by either the developer or the resident, the council can still choose to ‘call’ up the case. Baker wants to prevent this procedure because the purpose may be to seek concessions from developers.
Baker is also proposing they pass legislation similar to what has already been proposed by Delegate Justin Ross, requiring local officials to recuse themselves from voting on building projects if a developer contributed to a shared campaign account affiliated with the official. Presently, local leaders may vote on land use projects while indirectly receiving political contribution from these developers through accounts shared with General Assembly candidates.
January 7, 2011 •
An Advisory Committee on Campaign Finance created by Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has issued a report recommending changes to the state’s campaign finance laws. Among the 25 recommendations are treating LLC clusters and all other legal entities with common ownership or control as single entities for contribution limit purposes, requiring disclosure from any non-political party group making independent expenditures for the election or defeat of a candidate, and requiring loan-related violations of campaign contribution limits to be assessed against candidates as well as lenders.
The committee suggested further study for issues regarding how campaign finance laws apply to “new media,” including requiring the reporting of sub-vendor information, to prevent covert campaigning by candidates and their committees through anonymous sources.
December 2, 2010 •
Shared Campaign Accounts Are Issue
Maryland General Assembly Delegate Justin Ross will introduce legislation requiring local officials to recuse themselves from voting on building projects if a developer contributed to a shared campaign account affiliated with the official.
Presently, local leaders may vote on land use projects while indirectly receiving political contribution from these developers through accounts shared with General Assembly candidates.
In addition to the officials recusing themselves, developers would have to provide detailed information about all contributions to individual and shared accounts when they are requesting a land use decision from a council.
October 20, 2010 •
Bill Introduced to City Council
Baltimore City Council President Bernard Young introduced legislation to expand the city’s rules on lobbying. The Promoting Honesty in Lobbying bill requires individuals paid any dollar amount for lobbying to register as lobbyists. Currently, individuals are only required to register as lobbyists if they earn $2,500 or more.
Registration would also be required of individuals spending 20 percent or more of their time over a six-month period on lobbying. Lobbyists would have to report total expenditures for grassroots lobbying, including those for print, audio, visual, and electronic publications. Among other provisions of the bill is the prohibition of a lobbyist stating he or she can obtain the vote of a councilmember.
Photo by Nfutvol on Wikipedia.
July 22, 2010 •
Maryland Lawmakers Regulate Social Media Activity
Lawmakers adopted rules for candidates using social networking Web sites, making Maryland one of the first states to regulate such activity.
Here are two articles for further reading:
“Candidates Must Adhere to New Social Media Rules,” by Julie Bykowicz in the Baltimore Sun
“Maryland Lawmakers Pass New Election Law Restricting Facebook Today,” by Chet Dembeck in the Baltimore Examiner
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.