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Ethics panel suggests reducing local disclosure

ANNAPOLIS — An ethics panel of state senators is recommending that local government officials should not be required to release as much information in financial disclosure forms as officials in state government.

Under the proposal discussed Friday, local officials would be able to opt out of disclosing investments in businesses that are not regulated by state or local government. They also could opt out of disclosing investments in companies that are not doing business with state or local government.

Susan Wichmann, executive director of the government watchdog group Maryland Common Cause, says it’s a step backwards in ethics rules.

But Sen. Jamie Raskin, the chair of the panel, says current law he backed two years ago is being viewed in some municipalities as discouraging people from running for local office.