ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WMAR) — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday unveiled the Ethics and Accountability in Government Act, which he will pursue during this year's legislative session.
Hogan introduced the proposal during a speaking session at the State House.
The bill is made up of the following key components to address what Hogan calls a culture of corruption among public officials.
- Increasing fines for bribery of public officials by 1,000%
- Forcing convicted lawmakers to forfeit their taxpayer-funded pensions
- Expanding prohibitions of misuse of confidential information by public officials
- Empowering the Ethics Commission to directly assess penalties against public officials
“It has become clear in recent months and recent weeks that a pervasive culture of corruption continues to exist, and that even tougher and more stringent laws are needed,” said Governor Hogan. “The Ethics and Accountability in Government Act of 2020 will strengthen and toughen the state ethics laws in an effort to help restore the public’s trust and bring further transparency, accountability, and honesty to Annapolis.”
The proposal comes on the heels of recent indictments against state and local leaders and lawmakers, including former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, State Delegates Cheryl Glenn and Tawanna Gaines, and former Baltimore Police Commissioner Daryl DeSousa.
During the session, Hogan also stressed other aspects of accountability when it comes to crime and education, by proposing four other bills.
- The Judicial Transparency Act requires the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy to publish sentencing records of judges in violent crime cases to hold the system more accountable to the public for sentencing decisions.
- The Violent Firearm Offenders Act significantly increases tougher sentences for violent offenders who commit crimes with guns.
- The Witness Intimidation Prevention Act toughens penalties for witness intimidation resulting in serious physical injury or death.
- The Community and Local Accountability for Struggling Schools Act helps turn around under-performing schools by empowering communities to designate “Innovation Schools” that operate with greater local autonomy and flexibility.
Maryland's 2020 General Assembly will begin Wednesday morning in Annapolis.