State Roundup: State lawmakers take steps toward police reform

State Roundup: State lawmakers take steps toward police reform

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LAWMAKERS EMBARK ON POLICE REFORM: Maryland’s state lawmakers took their first steps Tuesday toward enacting policing reforms in the wake of international protests about police brutality, reports Pamela Wood of the Sun. While other states have worked quickly since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody to pass new laws, Maryland is taking a more deliberative approach.

  • Leaders of the state’s commission on police training faced tough questions from a panel of state delegates who are charged with making recommendations for sweeping changes to how law enforcement officers do their jobs, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
  • Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby is pushing back against a major police reform measure that would fundamentally change how law enforcement misconduct investigations are handled in Maryland, reports Glynis Kazanjian for the Baltimore Post Examiner. The proposal calls for the Office of the State Prosecutor to investigate use-of-force complaints, officer-involved deaths and racial profiling. Mosby, instead, favors legislation that would create separate investigatory agencies in state’s attorneys’ offices.

FREDERICK USE OF FORCE INCIDENTS DOUBLE: Frederick police have gradually increased their use of force in recent years, with Black people being the subject of nearly half of all uses of force, according to annual reports. Jeremy Arias of the Frederick News Post writes that the total use of force incidents reported by city police more than doubled from 58 incidents in 2016 to 144 reported the next year.

FARM BILL FOULS POLICE EVIDENCE LABS: As director of Baltimore’s crime lab, Chief Steven O’Dell paid no mind to the farm bill before Congress in late 2018. Neither did Rachel Lucas, who runs the Baltimore County police lab. The bill was supposed to set policy for agriculture, not evidence. It made their instruments for routine lab tests of suspected marijuana suddenly obsolete, Tim Prudente of the Sun reports.

COVID CASES RISE AGAIN: Maryland officials reported 404 new cases of the coronavirus Tuesday, ending two days of decline in newly confirmed cases, while 18 more people have died from the disease, Phil Davis of the Sun reports.

  • Three more residents of local elder care facilities in Carroll County have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Brian Compere of the Carroll County Times reports.
  • Maryland surpassed 65,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and crept toward 3,000 deaths Tuesday. In Frederick County, there are 2,419 confirmed cases after the state reported an increase of 12 since 10 a.m. Monday, Greg Swatek of the Frederick News-Post reports.
  • COVID-19 continues to spread in Washington County as authorities Tuesday reported that the County saw an additional seven cases over a 24-hour period, Dave McMillion reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

ADVOCATES WORRY OVER BOOM IN EVICTIONS: As the end of the federal moratorium on residential evictions looms, local government officials and advocates for the poor worry that thousands of Marylanders could soon lose their housing. The Maryland judiciary has indicated it will resume hearing eviction cases on July 25, when the federal moratorium ends, Bennett Leckrone of Maryland Matters writes.

FINANCIAL BOOST SOUGHT FOR NEWLY JOBLESS: A Maryland lawmaker is urging Gov. Larry Hogan to send emergency financial assistance to newly jobless workers who have waited more than two weeks to receive their first unemployment insurance check, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.

  • WMAR-TV is reporting that the Maryland Department of Labor says it has made significant progress in the processing and payment of unemployment insurance claims during the coronavirus pandemic. Of the 537,348 complete claims received from March 9 to June 13, 502,685 (93.5%) have been processed with 405,608 (75.4%) receiving benefit payments and 97,077 (18.1%) being denied benefits for not meeting state and federal program requirements.

CHALLENGE TO HOGAN ORDER CALLED ‘MOOT:’ Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that the governor’s attorneys told a federal appeals court Monday a constitutional challenge to Gov. Larry Hogan’s safer-at-home orders has been rendered moot by a relaxation in his pandemic-compelled directives and negated by a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding restrictions on attendance at houses of worship amid the COVID-19 virus.

WEN URGES CAUTION AS COVID RESTRICTIONS LIFTED: Marylanders should remain vigilant and continue to follow recommended safety guidelines as more and more of the state’s coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted, Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, told Bryan Renbaum in an interview for MarylandReporter.

PURPLE LINE PARTNERS THREATEN TO DISSOLVE: The consortium of companies overseeing the Purple Line told Maryland officials Tuesday that it will dissolve the project’s entire 36-year public-private partnership in 60 days if it can’t reach a settlement with the state over extensive delays and cost overruns, Katherine Shaver of the Post is reporting.

‘HYBRID’ ELECTION SOUGHT: Two state Senate leaders have called for a “hybrid” election to be held in Maryland this fall that would expand the number of in-person voting locations and allow early voting, while still mailing ballots to registered voters across the state, Emily Opilo of the Sun reports.

NEXT WAGE HIKE LIKELY TO MOVE FORWARD: Maryland’s next increase to the minimum wage, scheduled for Jan. 1, is likely to move forward as planned, despite efforts to put the brakes on it due to the coronavirus-fueled economic downturn, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

JONES TARGETS REBEL-CENTRIC STATE SONG: House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones said Tuesday that she plans to lead the chorus in calling for the repeal of the state’s Civil War-era state song, which has lyrics urging Maryland to secede and join the Confederacy against the “Northern scum,” Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

  • “It’s extremely offensive,” said Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat who is the first woman and person of color to lead a chamber in the General Assembly, Pamela Wood and Emily Opilo of the Sun report. “People just hear the words, ‘Maryland, My Maryland.’ But if you look at the words, it’s not something you want to hail as the song for the state,” Jones said.

VAN HOLLEN CRITICIZES FREEZE ON FOREIGN WORKERS: Jeff Barker of the Sun reports that U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s freezing of visas for temporary foreign workers will “further weaken” the national economy and deny tourism and other important Maryland industries the staff they need.

FIREARM BACKGROUND CHECKS DELAYED: Maryland State Police warned this week of delays to background checks for those purchasing firearms because of a “catastrophic hardware failure” to a state data system, Jessica Anderson of the Sun writes.

OAKS FREED FROM PRISON: Former convicted Baltimore state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks has been granted compassionate release about a month after filing for it due to health concerns amid the coronavirus.Oaks, 73, a Democrat, pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges and has served 21 months of his 3½-year sentence, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun reports.

JUDGE DISMISSES INDIVIDUAL ASSAULT DEFENDANTS: A Montgomery County judge on Tuesday dismissed four individual defendants from litigation filed by the families of three Maryland teenagers who were sexually assaulted by their football teammates in a Damascus High School locker room in 2018, Dan Morse and Donna St. George of the Post are reporting.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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