State Roundup: Senate passes Child Victims Act; crime dropped overall in state 2010-2020 but homicides jumped; House passed bill restricting spam calls

State Roundup: Senate passes Child Victims Act; crime dropped overall in state 2010-2020 but homicides jumped; House passed bill restricting spam calls

Senate President Bill Ferguson talks to reporters on the Senate floor this week. Maryland Senate photo

STATE SENATE PASSES CHILD VICTIMS ACT IN 42-5 VOTE: In a 42-5 vote, the Maryland Senate on Thursday night passed Senate Bill 686, which would remove the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits and allow survivors to file lawsuits regardless of when their abuse happened. The vote was likely the final major hurdle for the bill, known as the Child Victims Act, which now heads to the House where it has passed each year it has been introduced. Gov. Wes Moore has publicly expressed his support for the bill, with his office telling The Baltimore Sun that he looked forward to signing the bill into law. Lee O. Sanderlin/The Baltimore Sun

  •  Although the bill is all but certain to clear the House of Delegates and become law, lawmakers are already bracing for a court fight over whether the measure is constitutional. Maryland’s attorney general is simultaneously preparing to release findings of a four-year grand jury probe of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore’s handling of child sex abuse complaints over the past 80 years. Erin Cox/The Washington Post

MD.’S OVERALL CRIME DROPPED 2010-2020 BUT HOMICIDES JUMPED NEARLY 35%: Overall crime in Maryland steadily declined between 2010 and 2020, according to data from Maryland’s Open Data portal and yearly Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), a compilation of crime statistics from Maryland police departments. Yet reported homicides increased in that same period. Homicides in the state rose to a 10-year high of 573 in 2020, a nearly 35% increase from 2010. The largest year-to-year increase occurred in 2015 when homicides rose to 553, a 52% increase from the previous year. Victoria A. Ifatusin of Capital News Service/Maryland Reporter

HOUSE PASSES BILL RESTRICTING SPAM CALLS: The Stop the Spam Calls Act of 2023, which would prohibit certain telephone solicitations in Maryland, unanimously passed the House, and the Senate is expected to follow suit this week. The bill is so popular that the Senate put a final vote on hold until the names of 19 other lawmakers can be added as co-sponsors. David Collins/WBAL TV (NBC)

MOORE SEEKS FEDERAL AID AGAINST INVASIVE SPECIES IN CHESAPEAKE: Gov. Wes Moore is asking the federal government for help against an expanding population of invasive fish species in the Chesapeake Bay, including blue catfish, flathead catfish and snakehead. Since 2012, the total catch of seven of Maryland’s marquee commercial fishery species that share habitats with invasive fish have declined 27%- and 91% while their dockside value has declined 12%-85%, according to a spokesperson for the Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller. Dillon Mullan/ The Baltimore Sun

SHOULD NEXT BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT BE AN INSIDER OR NEW BLOOD?: The election is more than a year away but those vying for the Baltimore City Council president’s position are testing the political waters. Council President Nick Mosby announced this week that he intends to run for re-election and City Councilman Zeke Cohen has already indicated he is exploring a run for the job. One political activist questions whether electing council veterans to the post would be akin to “just rearranging the chairs on the Titanic,” but a political scientist said the city may benefit from a political insider. Jeff Abell /WBFF (Fox)

OFFICIALS SEEK TO RESTORE STABILITY TO ELECTIONS: Maryland elections in the past few years — amid a pandemic and a once-in-a-decade redistricting — have faced near-constant turbulence. State lawmakers are considering dozens of proposals this year to bring some stability back into the process and to make other improvements for voters and election administrators. Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL SLAMS SPOTTY RECYCLING COLLECTIONS: Baltimore City leaders and residents alike are fed up with the city’s inconsistent recycling service. The Department of Public Works provided few answers when prodded Thursday, leaving the council frustrated. Recycling pickup is happening every other week, according to DPW officials. But councilmembers told 11 News that service is often spotty. Biweekly collection is also a breach of the city charter, which mandates weekly pick-ups. WBAL-TV (NBC)

WILL MORE MD. COUNTIES OPT TO DELAY SCHOOL START TIMES?: When the Howard County Board of Education voted last month to start the school day later, it became the second Maryland jurisdiction in just two years to push its school start times back. The movement for later school start times has been gaining momentum for decades. Those efforts have come to fruition as Howard County passed a resolution to push its high school start time to 8 a.m. in the same academic year that Anne Arundel County implemented its 8:30 a.m. high school start times. Nicky Wolcott of Capital News Service/Maryland Reporter

OPINION: OFF-YEAR DONATIONS TO BALTIMORE MAYOR’S CAMPAIGN RAISE RED FLAGS: Are off-year campaign contributions to “The People for Brandon M. Scott” nothing more than people and companies interested in supporting good government? Or are they effectively payments by special interests in return for favorable treatment by the Baltimore mayor? Les Cohen/Baltimore Post-Examiner

SCOTT NOMINATES A DEPUTY MAYOR TO POWERFUL STADIUM AUTHORITY: Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott has named the deputy mayor for community and economic development to be his representative on the Maryland Stadium Authority board, sending the name to the Senate for confirmation. Scott (D) nominated Justin A. Williams, a lawyer who is vice chairman of the Maryland State Board of Elections, to the board of the powerful and prestigious Stadium Authority, which oversees hundreds of millions of dollars in capital projects each year. William F. Zorzi/ Maryland Matters

OPINION: FUTURE OF HORSERACING IN MD. IS IN JEOPARDY: The future of horse racing in Maryland in general, and the fate of the Preakness Stakes in particular, hangs in the balance. The deal announced in October 2019 and approved by the General Assembly in 2020 to renovate both Pimlico and Laurel Park racecourses and keep the Preakness in Baltimore is in deep trouble. And there are no cheap or easy alternatives. David Plymyer/ Maryland Matters

PENTAGON WILL STOP USING FIREFIGHTING FOAM CONTAINING PFAs: Battered by years of criticism from U.S. lawmakers and environmental advocates, the Department of Defense will stop purchasing PFAs-containing firefighting foam later this year and phase it out entirely in 2024. The replacement for Aqueous Film Forming Foam has yet to be determined, and advocates are frustrated it’s taken so long to halt the use of a product containing a “forever chemical” that at high levels of exposure may lead to increased risks for cancer, among other effects. Ashley Murray and Jennifer Shutt/Maryland Matters 

HOWARD CO. OFFICIALS PROBE SOLICITATION CALLS IMPERSONATING SHERIFF: The Howard County Police Department has opened an investigation into a phone scam that involves the impersonation of Howard County Sheriff Marcus Harris. The Howard County Sheriff’s Office warned people of the scam on Thursday. The online warning notes that the scam artist has reportedly been using the name of a deputy to fish money out of unsuspecting Howard County residents. But recently the scam artist has been pretending to be Harris “to make the call seem legitimate,” according to authorities. CBS Baltimore Staff/WJZ

About The Author

Regina Holmes

Contributing editor Regina Holmes has worked as a journalist for over 30 years. She was an assistant business editor at the Miami Herald and an assistant city editor at Newsday in New York City, where she helped supervise coverage of 9/11, anthrax attacks and the August 2003 Northeast Blackout. As an assistant managing editor of the Baltimore Examiner, she helped launch the free tabloid in 2006. Before joining Maryland Reporter, she was the managing editor for Washington, D.C.-based Talk Media News, where she supervised digital, radio and video production of news reports for over 400 radio stations. The Baltimore native is a graduate of Vassar College and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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