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Annapolis To Revise City Ethics Code

The city is working to comply with new, stricter state laws on disclosure.

Annapolis' Ethics Code will soon get its first major update in 18 years to how elected officials deal with conflicts of interest and financial disclosure thanks to an ordinance introduced to City Council.

“I want to personally thank Chairman [James] Dolezal and the members of our Ethics Commission for their diligence and attention to detail in offering this comprehensive update," Mayor Josh Cohen said in a press release.

Maryland's General Assembly passed a bill in 2010 that required counties and municipalities to revise their ethics laws to meet or exceed the requirements for state legislators. The law previously required that provisions be similar.

The law asked all county and city governments to submit a draft of their new laws by Oct. 1, 2011, to Maryland's State Ethics Commission for approval.

The commission approved Annapolis' changes on Oct. 25, which include:

  • Provided the Ethics Commission with greater ability to enforce penalties for ethics violations.
  • Provided for the Ethics Commission to publicly post on the city's website its findings of violations, as well as summaries of its advisory opinions.
  • Set monetary limits on amount of meals that city officials may accept and on their ability to accept tickets to sporting events.

"The Ethics Commission had begun working on updating the code’s definitions and language for clarity in November of 2009,” said Jim Dolezal, Annapolis' ethics commission chairman in the release. "This new requirement just became part of our working document."

The five-member commission looked at the codes of similarly sized cities like Frederick, Rockville, Laurel and Bowie when developing the new standards for Annapolis.

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