Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Tuesday got rid of 72 executive orders issued by seven of his predecessors — by signing an executive order of his own.
Hogan said the move to rescind dozens of actions taken by previous governors, including orders that created state panels to look at issues including homelessness, transportation and cancer research, is part of an ongoing effort to streamline the bureaucracy in Annapolis and throughout the state.
“This removal of five decades of unnecessary and outdated gubernatorial directives demonstrates our continued commitment to modernize and streamline Maryland state government, including many antiquated and out-of-date regulations,” Hogan said in a statement.
Matt Clark, a spokesman for Hogan, said more than half of the old orders dealt with commissions or work groups. None were still needed, he said, either because they were superceded by legislation; they created a commission or panel that had not met in years; or they focused on an issue now being addressed through other means.
Still, he said, the orders have stayed on the books.
“It’s part of a process of cleaning things up,” Clark said.
Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said the order rescinding the directives appears to be largely symbolic, but it sends a message to the public from Hogan that “I’ve taken on wasteful spending or unnecessary programming and you’re all the better for it.”
Last year, Hogan established a reform commission to examine whether regulations are hindering the state’s ability to retain and attract businesses.
Last month, he announced the hiring of former Democratic state lawmaker Robert R. Neall to head the newly formed Office of Transformation and Renewal, which is charged with making state government more accountable and efficient.
According to the directive Hogan announced Tuesday, the obsolete executive orders create “confusion in state government” and waste “the resources of businesses and citizens who must determine their effect.”
The oldest order Hogan rescinded was issued by Gov. Marvin Mandel (D) in 1970 to create the Science Advisory Council. The council has not met since 1996.
In 2007, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) created another group to allow Baltimore residents to have input into the Red Line light-rail project. The long-planned rail line was killed by Hogan last year.
A third order was signed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer (D) in 1987 to establish a state Child Day Care Coordinator. The position no longer exists.
Eberly said Hogan’s focus on reform makes sense, especially because the governor has had only “moderate to middling” success moving his legislative agenda through the majority-Democratic General Assembly.
“We’ve seen him repeatedly appear to say, ‘What can I do on my own?’ ” Eberly said. “This is another example of that.”