State Roundup: As police reform hearings start, Senate Republicans continue to emphasize their opposition

State Roundup: As police reform hearings start, Senate Republicans continue to emphasize their opposition

The State House in Annapolis ( file photo)

SENATE REPUBLICANS PUSH OPPOSITION TO POLICE REFORM BILLS: Republicans on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee opposed a series of Democrat-sponsored bills aimed at addressing police misconduct at a virtual hearing on Tuesday at a time when Baltimore City has seen a crime wave of shootings and homicides, Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter is reporting. The partisan tension comes one day after members of the Senate Republican Caucus wrote Senate President Bill Ferguson asking that the scheduled three consecutive days of hearings be canceled.

  • Tuesday’s hearing lasted five hours and touched on seven different pieces of legislation, ranging from establishing a use-of-force policy for all of Maryland’s police departments to eliminating no-knock warrants, writes Phil Davis in the Sun.
  • Democratic legislators are sponsoring more than a dozen proposals intended to improve accountability in law enforcement, which Republican senators characterize as patently anti-police. Included in that package is one that would track all complaints against police officers in Maryland and make that database public, Bryan Sears reports for the Daily Record.
  • Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) said that, between 2013 and 2020, she sponsored over 30 pieces of legislation aimed at reforming state policing policies, writes Hannah Gaskill for Maryland Matters. Between 2013 and 2019, 138 people were killed by police officers in Maryland. Only two of Carter’s reform bills have passed.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE DEATHS RISE DURING PANDEMIC: As the coronavirus continues to claim the lives of Marylanders every day, state officials said Tuesday that fatal drug overdoses and alcohol-related deaths also are increasing throughout the region, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun reports.

  • There were 1,326 unintentional intoxication deaths from all types of drugs and alcohol reported in Maryland during the first two quarters of 2020, said the state’s Opioid Operational Command Center and the Maryland Department of Health. That figure is a 9% increase from the 1,215 intoxication deaths reported in the first half of 2019, the Daily Record reports.
  • Accidental overdose deaths related to methamphetamines more than doubled in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019. Alcohol-related deaths increased nearly 35% and cocaine overdose deaths increased by 13%, Brenda Wintrode of the Capital News Service reports.

GA PANEL TO DISCUSS MES PRACTICES: A General Assembly committee with subpoena powers will meet Wednesday to discuss the practices of the Maryland Environmental Service, an independent state agency with a history of making payouts to departing directors, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

MARYLAND COURTS TO RESUME TRIALS OCT. 5: As Maryland courts gear up to resume jury trials on Oct. 5, state judiciary officials briefed state lawmakers on plans to bring juries back to the courtroom in a virtual meeting on Tuesday. They emphasized that even though courts will be returning to full operations, it won’t be business as usual, Angela Roberts of the Sun reports.

  • But, the process will be slow in all Maryland courts. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 15-20 jury trials were held in Baltimore Circuit Court per day. Now, the court’s goal is seven to eight per month, Samantha Hawkins of Maryland Matters reports. And the days of packing the jury shoulder-to-shoulder are over — at least for now. Courthouses across the state are fitted with plexiglass, hand sanitizer and social distancing requirements.

STATE ED OKs DISTRICT RE-OPENING PLANS: Maryland education officials have approved plans for all 24 school systems to eventually resume in-person classes, as expectations build at the state level to bring at least some students back to school buildings this fall, reports Liz Bowie in the Sun.

MORE MO CO STUDENTS OPT OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOL: As Montgomery County Public Schools’ enrollment dips, data show that more students than usual are opting for homeschooling and private schooling, Caitlynn Peetz reports for Bethesda Beat.

***Emerging Energy Storage Solutions & Grid Modernization This FREE Webinar on September 24th will examine energy storage in Maryland, beyond the pilot project proposals currently under consideration by the PSC. Find out which storage technologies are applicable- and at what scale- to provide value to the grid and facilitate resilience. Presenters will examine Vehicle to Grid capability and share examples of deployment in time-of-use environments, including Maryland based microgrid projects.***

WHERE TO VOTE: Bennett Leckrone of Maryland Matters writes about the voting centers that are opening throughtout the state and where people can vote – including offering maps. Faced with a massive shortage of election workers earlier this year, state election officials opted to open larger, limited in-person voting centers instead of precinct-level polling locations. There will be more than 300 in-person voting centers across the state on Nov. 3.

TWO COVID DEATHS IN CARROLL: Carroll County went over three weeks without seeing a death related to COVID-19, but now two have been confirmed in two days, Brian Compere reports for the Carroll County Times.

PANDEMIC PUTS RENEWED FOCUS ON KIRWAN FUNDING: Brian Witte of the AP writes about how the pandemic has put new focus on Kirwan education funding by showing the opportunity gaps in public schools. He highlights Baltimore city’s community schools coordinator to illustrate, including Geri Swann, who works the charter school in Canton in East Baltimore. This pandemic has her “working her cellphone constantly as she deals with up to 100 emails a day seeking help for students and their families. Finding them Chromebooks, and then buying eyeglasses for kids squinting at screens. Helping people get unemployment checks. Delivering groceries so a woman can feed her school-aged grandchildren while their parents recover from COVID-19.”

VIGIL, CALL TO ACTION HONOR RBG: Baltimore Women United helped organize a vigil last night and “call to action” to remember the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and it drew more than 100 people, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun reports. Attendees held lit candles and cheered and clapped enthusiastically throughout the event as speakers, including an ACLU of Maryland rep, a Planned Parenthood official, a public defender, Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott, talked about Ginsburg’s life and the November general election.

B’MORE MAY END CONTRACT WITH PUGH-CONNECTED FINANCIER: Baltimore’s top lawyer will recommend the city consider ending its contract with Grant Capital Management after the city’s inspector general found troubling omissions in the company’s bid for a lucrative contract regarding founder J.P. Grant’s donations to ex-Mayor Catherine Pugh, Talia Richman of the Sun reports.

  • According to the Inspector General’s report, the vice president of Grant Capital Management claimed in the affidavit to be in compliance with Maryland election law, but the company and its officials failed to file Maryland campaign finance disclosures as persons doing business with a public entity, WBFF-TV reports.

JUDGE RULES AGAINST CITY: The city of Baltimore committed an “illegal act” when it took $31,500 from a woman who settled a lawsuit and then spoke out publicly about allegations that police beat her, a federal judge ruled Monday while ordering the city to pay the money back, plus interest, Phillip Jackson reports for the Sun.

PRIVATE CAMERA SYSTEM IN ELLICOTT CITY NOW VITAL TO HOWARD: An Ellicott City business owner’s extensive camera system has become vital for Howard County in understanding and monitoring flooding and saving lives, Ana Faguy of the Howard County Times reports. “Before the camera system was in place, we used to have individuals from the police department or fire department go and be boots on the ground and give us information and give intel on spots that we knew were key spots,” said Mike Hinson, director of Howard County’s Office of Emergency Management.

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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