Senate panel kills effort to monitor foundations


ANNAPOLIS -- A Senate committee killed a bill yesterday that would have required private foundations affiliated with state agencies, particularly colleges and universities, to file annual audits detailing the use of funds.

Despite a proposed amendment that would have required the Division of Audits to keep a private foundation's financial records and audit reports confidential, members of the Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee said people might stop donating to foundations if the bill were enacted. The bill died on an 8-2 vote.

"I seriously think it's going to have a chilling effect on these institutions," Sen. Arthur Dorman, D-Prince George's, had said.

Similar bills have passed the Senate in two previous legislative sessions only to die in the House of Delegates.

Last fall, Sen. Julian L. Lapides, D-Baltimore, held a hearing after disclosures that at least four colleges, including Frostburg State University, were using money from their private tax-exempt foundations to buy tickets to political fund-raisers. Senator Lapides sponsored the bill that died in committee yesterday.

But even though the bill was killed, some committee members were not willing to give the foundations rave reviews.

"I think there has been some real smelly things going on with these foundation dollars," said Sen. Michael J. Collins, D-Baltimore County. "Let's let the board of trustees take care of business, and if they can't take care of business, then shame on them."

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