ANNAPOLIS, MD – On January 9, Governor Larry Hogan unveiled proposed legislation to enhance accountability and transparency in state government, building on the transformative ethics reform legislation successfully championed by the administration during the last legislative session. The governor was joined by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford and Chief Legislative Officer Chris Shank to make the announcement.
“When I was elected, I pledged that we were going to get to work cleaning up the mess in Annapolis and restoring integrity to our state capitol. I promised to build a government that would work for the people – instead of the other way around – and that we would usher in a new era of bipartisanship,” said Governor Hogan. “From the first day of our administration, our team has been working diligently to root out wrongdoing and corruption no matter where it is taking place.”
In the 2017 legislative session, Governor Hogan proposed and signed into law the first comprehensive ethics reform in Maryland in 15 years. The governor’s Public Integrity Act of 2017 places new restrictions on the executive and legislative branches of government to eliminate conflicts of interest and corrupt behavior. This legislation was enacted against the backdrop of an extensive, multi-year federal investigation that exposed corrupt practices by current and former members of the legislature, as well as local government officials.
The governor announced two new legislative proposals to build on the administration’s efforts to bring further transparency, accountability, and fairness to state government:
The Government Accountability Act of 2018 will establish terms limits for legislators equal to those imposed on the governor, in order to make state government more accountable and responsive to the citizens. Under the proposed legislation, legislators will be able to serve a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms in each chamber of the General Assembly. A large majority of Marylanders favor term limits, which have already been instituted in 15 other states, and nearly 70 percent of Montgomery County citizens recently voted in favor of term limits for local government. The governor called on legislators from both parties to come together and pass this legislation in a bipartisan manner, which would allow the measure to then be put on the ballot for Maryland voters to decide this year.
“Our founding fathers never envisioned professional politicians who spend their entire careers in office; what they intended was citizen legislators who would represent their constituents and then return back home to their real jobs. The rise of professional politicians has led to out-of-control partisanship, the stifling of honest debate and fresh ideas, rampant gerrymandering, one-party monopolies, and an increased potential for the type of corruption that our administration has been fighting to root out,” said the governor.
Governor Hogan also announced the Legislative Transparency Act of 2018, which will require all sessions of the Maryland General Assembly – including floor sessions, voting sessions and hearings – to be livestreamed to the public via both audio and video. Despite being one of just seven states in the nation not to livestream video of either house of the state legislature, Maryland legislators have repeatedly refused to act on this proposal, or even so much as bring it to the floor for a vote.
“I believe very strongly that the public has a right to know what their lawmakers are saying and doing during the debate on these important issues which are directly affecting the citizens and taxpayers of Maryland. Legislators should be deliberating out in the open, in the light of day, instead of behind closed doors. Our hope is that this year will finally be the year that this common sense measure is signed into law,” said the governor.
The initiatives announced today build on the Hogan administration’s record of consistent advocacy for greater transparency and accountability throughout state government. In addition to the major ethics reform legislation passed during the last session, the governor took action immediately upon taking office to appoint an unprecedented bipartisan cabinet and issued an executive order outlining standards of conduct for governor’s office staff, cabinet members, and all executive branch employees.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the immense responsibility we have as public officials to serve the best interests of the citizens of Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “I pledge that we will continue to do whatever it takes to put aside the politics and the partisanship and to work together with the legislature in a bipartisan way to ensure that the people of Maryland are being represented honestly and fairly.”