Baltimore voters will decide whether to hire an independent lawyer for the City Council, under legislation approved Monday.
Council members unanimously backed a proposal to hire their own lawyer instead of relying on City Solicitor George Nilson for legal advice, a move that would place the matter before voters during the 2014 elections.
Some council members have argued that Nilson, who reports to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, is loyal primarily to the mayor, and does not give the council's views the same weight in making decisions. Nilson has said he believes the bill is duplicative and wasteful, but he helped the council in crafting it, nevertheless.
The charter amendment legislation requires the council's attorney to be paid as much as a chief in the city law department, a position that currently pays $107,300 annually. It also prohibits the attorney from holding outside employment.
In other matters, council members approved a bill to increase registration fees charged to lobbyists from $20 to $100; sent a proposal to crack down on panhandling back to a committee for more work; and authorized the transfer of $160,000 to fund two city prosecutors to work in the U.S. Attorney's office in Baltimore.
Baltimore Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this article.
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