Lobbyists for the first time will be forced to list by name those legislators whom they treat to large amounts of food, drink, or entertainment under a bill passed by the Senate today.
The measure now awaits the governor's signature before it becomes law.
As in the House, there was little debate today on the issue, and it won approval by a 34-to-5 vote is the Senate.
The disclosure bill was the product of summer-long work sessions by the House subcommittee on lobbying.Subcommittee Chairman Thomas B. Kernan (D-Baltimore County) said the bill was a way to "answer the legitimate questions of citizens every time they read a headline that says $1.3 million is spent on legislature by lobbyists."
Although the final bill is a weakened version of the subcommittee's recommendation, it does "take a first step in showing the citizens that their fears are unwarranted . . . about the necessary aura of possible corruption involved with lobbyists, what they do, and how they do it," Kernan said.
Under current law lobbyists file a report with the secretary of state showing only the amount of money they spend to influence the legislature.
The new bill requires lobbyists to keep personal records on every legislator for whom the lobbyists spent at least $15 in one day. Once that total hits $75, the lobbyists must include the name of the legislator in the disclosure report as well as an itemization of the expenses.
The bill also requires, for the first time, that lobbyists follow the same procedure for any member of the executive branch whom the lobbyists is trying to influence.
For the past two years lobbyist disclosure measures have been defeated in the House primarily because of the embarrassment it could cause some legislators but with this new compromise bill few legislators need worry about overexposure in a lobbyist's report.
It is possible, for instance, for a lobbyists to spend $10 each day of the session on one public official and never report it to the secretary of state.
"It's a good, fair bill," said Del. Charles J. Krysiak (D-Baltimore City), a long-time opponent of such measures and chairman of the Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee that hammered out the compromise.
The bill is also a "sunset measure" and its requirements automatically will terminate in 1980. Then the General Assembly will review the law for possible re-instatement.
The Senate also voted today to postpone debate on the death penalty bill and the controversial prison plan at the East Baltimore Continental Can site. The Senate was expected to take up the prison proposal later tonight after Baltimore City senator - along with city officials - attempt to put together a compromise that would avoid a threatened filibuster.
The Senate did give initial approval today to a House bill that would require notification of parents when their minor child has an abortion. In an emotional exchange between opponents of the measure, Sen. Rosalie Silber Abrams (D-Baltimore City) warned that these young women "would be sent to back alley butchers if the measure passed." The Senate did approve one of her amendments that would exclude from this bill any woman whose health would be jeopardized without an abortion.
Sen. Margaret C. Schweinhaut (D-Montgomery) argued that this measure would help "cement the family relationship" by including the parents in a decision of such magniture.
Sen. J. Joseph Curran Jr., (D-Baltimore City) disagreed, saying that children with good relations with their parents would automatically go to them for help. For those who do not get along with their parents in the first place, there could be grave repurcussions, he said.