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.