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Review of M-NCPPC Lobbying Regulations

Background

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (Commission) Office of the General Counsel (Legal Office) has been working on revisions to the agency’s Lobbying Disclosure policy (Administrative Practice 5‐61). These revisions to the policy will establish when certain individuals and entities must register and file activity reports with the agency when money is spent, or expenses are incurred, to influence a Commission Action.

Under the revisions, Commission Actions can include any executive, administrative, quasi-legislative, quasi-judicial, advisory, or adjudicatory action taken formally by the full Commission, the Planning Boards, or other officials. More specifically, these can include authorizing grants, awarding procurement contracts, adopting resolutions or policies, making recommendations for the General Plan, and making decisions on site plans.

Under the Maryland Public Ethics Act Law, the Commission is required to have lobbying disclosure requirements that are “similar to the provisions”1 of those applicable to individuals and entities who lobby the State.

Findings

The key finding and recommendation of the M-NCPPC Legal Office review is that the Commission’s existing lobbying regulations should be revised because they do not adequately cover the scope of activity required and/or implied under the Maryland Public Ethics Law.1 That is, the Commission’s current regulations appear to exclude certain procurement actions, quasi-legislative land-use decisions, and paid lobbying by civic organizations – all of which could be viewed as being within the State law mandate for lobbying regulation.

The Commission’s Legal Office also recommends making the agency’s regulations simpler by avoiding legal classifications tied to opaque court decisions; accepting the Commission’s unique role as an advisor in the respective legislative affairs of each county; and prescribing clear lines of program authority and responsibilities.

1 See: Annotated Code of Maryland, General Provisions Article, Section 5‐830(b).

Next steps

The M-NCPPC Legal Office has consulted with officials from the State Ethics Commission and requested their input. M-NCPPC anticipates receiving their comments soon. For this reason, a request was made to table the item for review by the Full Commission.

About the Commission

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is a bi-county agency empowered by the State of Maryland in 1927 to acquire, develop, maintain, and administer a regional system of parks within Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, and to provide land use planning for the physical development of Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. In addition, the agency gained responsibility for the public recreation program in Prince George’s County in 1970.

The governing body of M-NCPPC consists of 10 members, five appointed by Montgomery County and five by Prince George’s County. The Commission coordinates and acts on matters of interest to both counties and meets at least once a month. The members of the commission from each county serve on separate county planning boards to facilitate, review, and administer the matters affecting their respective counties.

Last Updated: January 11, 2022