Maryland ethics legislation moves to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk.

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Gov. Larry Hogan, center, smiles after signing a bill earlier this year with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert), left, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), right. (Brian Witte/AP)

After a series of coordinated corrupt racketeering activities involving elected public officials in Maryland, the Maryland House of Delegates on Saturday gave final approval to a bill designed to strengthen the state’s ethics laws, sending the measure to Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who proposed the plan as part of his legislative agenda this year. House Bill 978 provides for stiffer penalties for bribery — a provision offered on the same morning a state senator was charged with taking cash payments in a phony development deal.

The bill, which passed the House and Senate with unanimous support, will increase financial disclosure requirements and expand the definition of what constitutes a conflict of interest for state public officials, state elected officials and lobbyists.

Hogan applauded the legislature and its Democratic leaders, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (Anne Arundel) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (Calvert), for working with him to enact the bill.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, added a provision Friday to increase the penalty for bribery to up to $10,000 in fines and 12 years in prison.

“With this legislation, we are reaffirming our promise and commitment to the accountability, transparency, and fairness that the people of Maryland deserve,” Hogan said.

 The bill’s approval came during a legislative session in which three current or former Maryland lawmakers have been charged with crimes related to bribery, and one was publicly reprimanded by the House for violating the spirit of ethics laws by taking stances on the state’s fledgling medical-marijuana industry without publicly making clear that he was working as a consultant for a related business.
 The scandals, two of which involved the Prince George’s County liquor board in addition to state lawmakers, led to several other ethics proposals this year, including legislation to overhaul the structure of the liquor board and subject liquor inspectors, commissioners and staff to stricter ethics rules.
Read more >>>Washington Post
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