Bill seeks to reduce chauffeurs for state officials

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By Daniel Menefee

House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell, R-Calvert, testified Wednesday on a bill he sponsored to stop public officials from using state employees as personal chauffeurs.

He also wants to reduce the number of state troopers assigned to transport lawmakers and top government executives.

“Marylanders are struggling to pay their bills and keep food on the table,” O’Donnell said. “They struggle to pay high gas prices, and they don’t want to pay for dozens of state officials to be driven around by state employees acting as chauffeurs.”

There are 32 troopers assigned to the executive branch. Attorney General Douglas Gansler, Comptroller Peter Franchot and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp are each assigned a car and two state troopers. The governor and lieutenant governor’s security strength is undisclosed for security purposes. The services for all five cost $3.2 million annually, according to the bill’s fiscal note.

Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch each have two troopers and a car assigned to them at a cost of $600,000 annually.

O’Donnell wants all public officials, except the governor and lieutenant governor, to drive themselves and request reimbursement for authorized expenses that apply to state employees.

The proposal would also end the practice of state officials using employees in their control as personal chauffeurs.

For instance, the lead maintenance mechanic for the University of Maryland provides driving services for the chancellor and members of the Board of Regents, and the maintenance mechanic at University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute is on call to drive its president.