Counties, Municipalities and Boards of Education
The Ethics Law requires local governments to enact similar laws for their jurisdictions. In the case of elected local officials, local governments’ laws must be equivalent to or exceed the requirements of State law with respect to conflict of interest provisions and financial disclosure provisions. The State Ethics Commission may exempt certain small municipalities from the requirement to enact ethics laws, or certain parts of ethics laws, for their jurisdictions. School boards may enact their own ethics regulations and thus become independent from county laws. If an official or employee is also a local government official or employee, he or she may need to consult with the local ethics commission in addition to the State Ethics Commission with regard to some activities. The Ethics Commission issues model laws, approves enacted laws or regulations, and assists in local law development. Md. Code Ann., Gen. Prov. Art. §§ 5-801 through 5-820 address these issues.
There were significant changes mandated to county and municipal ethics laws and county boards of education ethics regulations by legislation (SB315 – Chapter 277 of the Acts of 2010) enacted during the 2010 General Assembly session. The changes focus on elected local officials and members of school boards and require local ethics laws and school board regulations to have conflict of interest standards and financial disclosure requirements at least equivalent to those required for State officials and public officials. The law became effective October 1, 2010 and will require the counties and municipalities to certify that their laws are in compliance by October 1, 2011.