• Stephen Buckingham

Priority Bills Moving

Last week we reported on a Senate committee’s actions on Police Accountability measures, and there has been further progress on that front. The eight bills first reported to the Senate floor were passed without additional weakening amendments, and a ninth measure, SB 786, also passed, transferring control of the Baltimore Police Department to the City. In the meantime, the House Judiciary Committee has completed its work on its omnibus Police Accountability bill, HB 670, and it will be heard on the House Floor on Tuesday. We will watch it closely and compare its provisions to the Senate bills to see which version is preferable. Stay tuned for our analysis this week.

In addition to progress on this major issue, we have now seen progress made by other priority bills. Of particular note is the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021, SB 414, which came out of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee last week and will get a full airing on the Senate floor this week. Sponsored by Senator Paul Pinsky, the committee’s chair (and an early awardee by UULM-MD as Lawmaker of the Year), this measure takes a comprehensive approach to addressing climate change with concrete steps towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Two other environmental bills we support are also moving forward, including HB 768 Community Choice Energy Pilot Program (passed the House), and HB 314 banning plastic bags (ready to pass the House). Seven other favorable environmental bills are also making their way through the General Assembly (for the full list of climate bills being tracked, see the 2021 Climate Change page).

Another major criminal justice bill also passed the House last week, HB 3 Parole Reform, which removes the Governor from the process of approving parole for individuals serving life sentences. Former Governor Parris Glendening recently wrote an op ed calling for its passage, admitting that his opposition to it years ago was wrong. Also passing the House last week was HB 445, which expands the use of citations to charge people with offenses in place of making arrests.

Unfortunately, none of our other Task Forces have seen their priority bills move, so our attention will be turned towards getting these bills voted out of committee ahead of the crossover deadline on March 22. Please watch for our alerts and do your part to move these measures forward.

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