It has been an eventful first couple of weeks in Annapolis. My commitment continues to be working hard with Governor Hogan to make Maryland a more family-friendly and pro-job creation state. Unfortunately, the news has been filled recently with reports of unethical or illegal activity from some in the General Assembly. As a state legislator, I believe that our ethics should be above reproach and that all of us should be fully transparent and accountable to the public and to our state’s ethics commission.
It’s been nearly two decades since the General Assembly’s ethics laws were significantly updated. Governor Hogan has introduced several pieces of legislation that will help clarify some of the requirements and add additional restrictions to deal with new loopholes that have been exploited.
The proposals include tightening the prohibition of legislators from voting on bills that would financially benefit their employer or themselves. Legislators and staff would also be required to wait a year after leaving the legislature before going to work for a lobbying firm.
Another critical proposal the Governor is putting forward that would go a long way towards cleaning up problems is establishing an independent Redistricting Commission to draw future congressional and state legislative maps. The Annapolis liberal establishment rammed through an bizarrely contorted congressional map designed to benefit the majority Democratic Party. They drew State Delegate and Senatorial districts with the same goal, often dicing up municipalities or counties unnecessarily. Governor Hogan’s nonpartisan redistricting commission would provide Maryland with fair, sensibly designed districts that don’t put partisan advantage ahead of geographic common sense. There is no plausible explanation why Taneytown should be in the same congressional district as Ocean City.
I fully support the Governor’s Government Integrity Initiative. Illegal and unethical behavior by elected officials or staff is not acceptable. Voting districts should be drawn with as little partisan bias as possible. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both parties to make progress on these critical issues.
The writer is a State Senator, representing District 5.