Floor Action

Here are just a few of the bills the House passed this week (you can see all the floor agendas and debates here):

HB 670 is the Speaker's bill on policing reform. The bill is comprehensive and thoughtful, and addresses a wide array of issues related to policing including: returning control of the Baltimore Policy Department to Baltimore (currently it is under state control); repealing the Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights and setting up a statewide system of investigating and disciplining law enforcement officers; increasing the standards required to apply for and obtain no knock warrants; ensuring robust and significant civilian participation and oversight in policy and accountability; creating a Use of Force Statute, including banning choke-holds; instituting scholarships and loan repayment assistance for those who go into policing; ensuring transparency of records; requiring agencies to provide access to confidential mental health services; setting up an early warning system for those officers who are at risk of engaging in excessive force and providing them with intervention and support; requiring the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission to devise a standard disciplinary matrix; and much more. The bill was based in simple yet profound beliefs: civilians must be involved; and the people we hire, give guns to, and legally allow to kill us, must be the well-trained experts we hire them to be.

The debate was long - we were there for 5 hours - and it revealed two very differently philosophies. The Republicans believe (and said), "we should just leave police alone to do their job and protect us." The Democrats believe in civilian participation, police training, and clear, consistent rules that ensure all people are treated equally and with respect.

You can see the discussion on amendments and debate here.

HB 1312 - stability of housing during the pandemic has been a large concern, and HB 1312 is one piece of our trying to make sure people stay housed during this health emergency. This bill allows tenants to show that they are unable to pay rent due to a catastrophic health emergency as a defense to being evicted.

HB 667 repeals the state song, "Maryland! My Maryland!" Written about events during the Civil War, the song refers to President Lincoln as a "despot," the Union as "Northern scum," and calls for Maryland to fight against the U.S.

HB 940 - establishes and implements sports wagering in Maryland, and provides for the regulation of sports wagering and fantasy gaming competitions.

HB 28 & HB 78 - focus on health equity and works to address underlying health conditions that stem from systemic health and social inequities.

Environment & Transportation Committee

This week our Committee voted on several bills I'd like to highlight for you:

HB 507 reauthorizes and modifies the Clean Water Commerce Act to help fund the reduction of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment that flow into the Bay. These are key pollutants that we must reduce in order to make and keep the Bay healthy.

HB 860 establishes a statewide goal of preserving 1,030,000 acres of productive agricultural land through 2030.

HB 861 sets guidelines on what must be in "reusable tenant screening reports" and requiring notice of whether landlords accept them. I think about these reports like the "common app" for colleges; sometimes tenants apply to a lot of properties, not knowing where their application will be accepted. These reports make it easier & cheaper for them. Landlords are not required to accept them, they only have to notify prospective tenants whether they do or not.

You can see the Committee hearing schedule and videos of our hearings here.