The Maryland Senate on Thursday expanded a bill that would require online posting of the financial disclosure forms of state officials to apply to county officials as well.
“I see no reason why we should exempt the counties and their officials from the requirement,” said Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), who proposed the amendment.
The amendment was added to legislation spurred by an ethics case brought against Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s), who failed to disclose outside consulting income from a grocery chain for five years.
Under current law, the disclosure forms filled out by lawmakers and other high-ranking state officials are only available for inspection in a state office in Annapolis. Lawmakers can elect to be notified when a member of the public looks at their forms, and the person inspecting the record must provide his or her home address.
The bill pending in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Jamie B. Raskin
(D-Montgomery), originally applied only to state officials. This
week, Zirkin proposed an amendment expanding the bill to include state and local officials as well.
After hearing concerns that such a requirement could deter elected
officials in small towns from serving, Zirkin offered a new amendment
Thursday limiting the expansion to county officials.
Sen. Roy P. Dyson (D-St. Mary’s), a supporter of the Raskin bill, argued against including counties, saying the requirement could be very expensive.
“This would be a heck of a mandate to put on them,” Dyson said. “This would be a tremendous burden on them.”
The amendment passed 32 to 13. The Senate is expected to take a final vote on the bill this week. If passed, the measure would then move to the House of Delegates.
Currie was acquitted last year of all federal criminal charges, but the Senate voted this year to censure him for ethical lapses.