Miller announced Friday that he has appointed Sen.
The creation of the panel comes just two months after the acquittal of Sen. Ulysses S. Currie on bribery and extortion charges at a federal corruption trial at which the defense admitted ethical lapses on the Prince George's Democrat's part but insisted they weren't crimes. Those issues have been referred to the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics for investigation and a potential recommendation of punishment.
The new, Senate-only panel is separate from the joint committee, which includes members of the House of Delegates as well as senators. Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat, is a member of the joint panel as well as the new committee.
Miller said he has directed the Special Senate Committee on Ethics Reform to make initial recommendations to the full Senate by March 1 so that high-priority legislation can be passed during the session that ends in April. He said the panel will continue its work after the session and make final recommendations for action in 2013.
While the timetable gives ample time for the Senate to act on any recommendations, it is unclear whether the House would feel as motivated to act quickly on proposals it did not play a role in developing. House Speaker
Raskin said he has long believed the General Assembly should undertake a comprehensive review of its ethics laws.
"Our hope is to generate some excellent ideas that we will be able to enact in the Senate and send to the House for their consideration,' Raskin said.
While the Currie case is still fresh in legislators' minds, Raskin said no single case has precipitated the review Miller has ordered.
"Every legislative body should be doing what it can to pinpoint the best practices around for professional conduct in the legislative process," Raskin said. "The basic thing is that people cannot view public office as an opportunity to make money at the expense of the public."