Increasing Government Transparency
Amazingly, there has not historically been a requirement that such budget reductions be publicized in advance. For example, in January of 2015, the Board of Public Works cut $200 million from the budget affecting many areas of state government including causing a rare mid-year tuition increase at institutions of higher education, yet the contents of the cuts were not made available until after the reductions were made.
Last year, the General Assembly included language in the budget to require 72 hours of public notice before such cuts were made. The language expires at the end of the fiscal year, but has already had an impact. In the spring, Governor Hogan proposed a reduction to the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and thanks to the budget language, the reduction was publicized and the Department's workforce was able to work with the Governor to achieve his goal without the cut or anyone losing their position. This year's bill would make a public notice requirement permanent and require 10 days advance notice of any reductions.
The legislation has been endorsed by a broad array of public interest groups including Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and the ACLU. Senator Rich Madaleno is carrying the legislation in the Senate.
Unlike Congress, the Maryland General Assembly is part-time. We meet for 90 days between mid-January and mid-April annually. In order to get all our work done in 90 days, we follow a series of deadlines for bill drafting, bill introduction, and a cross-over deadline (the date by which a bill must pass one chamber to be heard in the other). Last week was the bill introduction deadline. 1,509 bills were introduced in the House by the filing deadline. Any bill filed after the deadline is automatically referred to the Rules Committee which can determine if the bill can continue through the legislative process.
Last week, three common sense firearms regulation bills were introduced that I hope will be passed this session. HB 1000 prohibits anyone on the terrorist watch list from legally obtaining a firearm. HB 1001 clarifies that persons convicted of criminal offenses that require them to surrender their firearms must be informed of this by the judge. Currently, judges are not informing those in court of their obligation under the law and many remain unaware. HB 1002 would make institutions of higher education gun free zones, with certain exceptions for law enforcement, ROTC, and other valid reasons to possess a firearm. Currently, this decision is left to the individual campuses.
Governor Hogan recently established the Commission to Modernize State Procurement to review Maryland's procurement code and regulations.
I agree with the Governor that the state's procurement mechanisms are out of date. I support legislation introduced by my colleague, Delegate Kirill Reznik, to reorganize state procurement. The legislation is based on the findings of a Department of Legislative Services study of procurement issues and an outside consultant's report completed a few years ago: An interesting commentary regarding the need for procurement reform can be found here.
District 16 Notes
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