A. Exemption and Modification Requests.
(1) Request for a Modification or Exemption.
(a) A county may request a modification of the requirements of COMAR 19A.04.02 when appropriate based on clearly demonstrable local circumstances.
(b) A municipality may request a modification of or an exemption from the requirements of COMAR 19A.04.02 when appropriate based on clearly demonstrable local circumstances.
(2) Commission Review of Exemption and Modification Requests.
(a) The Commission may grant exemptions from and modifications to the requirements of COMAR 19A.04.02 as provided in this regulation.
(b) The Commission may not grant a county:
(i) An exemption from the requirement that a county adopt a local law; or
(ii) A modification to the requirements of COMAR 19A.04.02 for elected local officials.
(c) When demonstrable local circumstances justify departure from the basic elements of the Public Ethics Law, the Commission may grant a county or a municipality a modification to the requirements of COMAR 19A.04.02.
(d) Commission Review of Municipality Exemption Requests.
(i) The Commission may grant a municipality an exemption from the requirements of COMAR 19A.04.02 if because of the size of the municipality the application of all or any portion of COMAR 19A.04.02 and the Public Ethics Law would constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy, would significantly reduce the availability of qualified persons for public service, and is not necessary to preserve the purposes of the Public Ethics Law.
(ii) In considering whether the size of a municipality justifies an exemption or modification, the Commission shall consider the population of the municipality and other factors relating to size, including the number of public employees, the type and number of government functions performed by the municipality, and the size of the municipal budget.
B. Exemptions and Modifications — Duration and Review Procedures.
(1) Any exemption or modification granted to a county or municipality shall remain in effect until:
(a) The Commission determines that the original determination was in error; or
(b) The county or municipality has substantially changed since the exemption or modification was granted.
(2) A county or municipality may request a change in its exemption status at any time by submitting a written request to the Commission.
(3) The Commission shall review the status of all municipal exemptions and modifications at the end of each decennial census to determine if any municipal exemption or modification will be reconsidered based on the information available at that time.
(4) If the Commission preliminarily determines that an existing exemption or modification should be reviewed or reconsidered, the Commission shall notify the county or municipality at least 60 days before Commission review or reconsideration.
(5) A county or municipality may:
(a) Present information or views regarding an exemption or modification to the Commission in writing; and
(b) Appear before the Commission at the request of the county or municipality or at the request of the Commission.
(6) Members of the public may present views or information in writing.
(7) The Commission shall:
(a) Make decisions regarding exemptions and modification in open public meetings; and
(b) Advise counties and municipalities of decisions regarding exemptions and modifications in writing.