Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III announced that he requested to the State Legislature a new Liquor Board Reform Bill. The new legislation would shift control from the state the county and in turn strengthen the oversight of Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners.Currently the Governor appoints members of the Board of License Commissioners, but with the new legislation the responsibility will be transferred to the County Executive. The County Council will also need to confirm the Board member. This alone will strengthen oversight and increase local control of the board and its inspectors.
“The selection and oversight of the Board of Licensee Commissioners needs to be reformed,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “The legislation we are proposing creates much stronger oversight and accountability by shifting the appointment responsibility to the County. By providing local control and accountability over this Board, our residents and businesses can be better assured that any corruption, malfeasance, or unethical behaviors will be quickly detected, investigated, and corrected.”
The appointment process would be altered under the County Executive’s Liquor Board Reform Legislation, giving the County Executive the authority to appoint the Board members. These changes are designed to decrease the possibility of political influence through public hearings for the board members and public committee sessions.
Another significant change is the conversion of the inspectors from Board appointees to County employees. A competitive hiring process would be required, so the selection of the Chief Liquor Inspector, 24 part-time liquor inspectors and 2 Deputy Chief Inspectors would not be swayed by political influence.
County Executive Baker says has pledged to work with his colleagues during the next several weeks on these proposals.
The proposal comes after two business owners and two Prince George’s County Liquor Board officials were charged in January in an alleged bribery conspiracy.