Maryland Senate panel tackles ethics reform

As Maryland lawmakers consider sanctions against one of their own, a new committee of seven senators will be searching for ways to make the state's ethics laws more open and transparent and toughen sanctions against lawmakers who break them. The Senate Special Committee on Ethics Reform will compile a list of suggested reforms by March 1. Meanwhile, a joint General Assembly committee will hold hearings on Sen. Ulysses Currie's failure to disclose work for a grocery store chain. Jurors who acquitted Currie, D-Prince George's, in November of conspiracy, bribery, extortion and other federal charges said after the trial that there may have been conflicts of interest and that those ethical questions should be handled by the General Assembly. "It's not news to anybody that public trust nationally in public institutions is very low right now," said Sen. Jamie Raskin, the Montgomery County Democrat heading the committee.