A state law regarding ethical guidelines for municipal governments for conflicts of interest, financial disclosures and lobbying has municipalities across the state and in Carroll dragging their feet.
The state law passed in October 2010 required municipalities, county governments and the boards of education across the state to make their ethics requirements "as stringent as state law," said Jim Peck, the director of research at the Maryland Municipal League.
As of right now, close to three quarters of municipalities are completely exempt or partially exempt from the lobbying requirements of the law, Peck said. This is due to mostly the size of the municipality, the budget and whether the lobbying disclosure requirements could cause people to not run for office, according to Michael Lord, the executive director of the State Ethics Commission.
The law went into effect Oct. 1, 2011, but more than a year later, few municipalities have passed the ordinance. The reason for this is two-fold, Lord said. The commission had to create a model law for the municipalities to rework their ordinance from, and there is a lot of back and forth between the towns and the State Ethics Commission, he said.
The commission hoped to have most municipalities in compliance by this Oct. 1, Lord said.
"We have a lot of governments who are complying or on the verge of complying. The commission is pleased with the progress local governments have made," Lord said.
Mount Airy, Westminster and Manchester must fulfill all pieces of their ethics ordinance, including the lobbying requirements, which require a lobbying registration statement if a person intends to influence a town official or employee, or spends money on officials with the intent to influence.
Sykesville, Taneytown and Hampstead are exempt from the lobbying portion of the law. New Windsor and Union Bridge are completely exempt from the ethics ordinance. Sykesville passed the ethics ordinance with a few minor edits, said council member Ian Shaw.
All of the municipalities aside from Sykesville are still in the process of working on their ethics ordinance.
The state is still considering waivers for certain municipalities, which has held up the state from seeking out compliance issues, Peck said. The commission is not seeking out compliance issues at this time, because they are anticipating over the next few months, most of the municipalities will be in compliance, Lord said.
"We've been very comfortable with the fact that in the vast, vast majority of the cases they're getting there," Lord said.
Members of the Maryland Municipal League have resisted some of the requirements, and are creating a workgroup with members of the public and state government to make recommendations.
The workgroup is supposed to make recommendations by Dec. 1, Peck said, but they have not officially formed yet.
"We still hope something will come up, because times a wasting here," Peck said.