This week, two more of Senator Bailey’s bills received favorable reports from Senate committees. Senate Bill 15, which would ensure that all current holders of a handgun permit receive a notification from the State Police before the expiration of their permit, received a favorable report with amendments from the Judicial Proceedings Committee. The amendments make the notification provisions of the bill permanent and address privacy concerns by removing the requirement that this notification to handgun permit holders would have been sent by postcard. Senate Bill 51, which will allow the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) act property manager for the Regional Agricultural Center (RAC) that will be located in St. Mary’s County, also received a favorable report from the Finance Committee. These bills are scheduled to be considered by the full Senate next week.
This week, the Senate continued to work on police reform. The full Senate passed nine bills that will affect policing in Maryland if enacted. Six of these bills passed unanimously, including bills to expand the use of body cameras, improve mental health programs offered to officers, add new standards for search warrants, limiting the types of military equipment that police forces can buy, providing for independent prosecutions of deaths caused by police officers, and giving Baltimore City control of their police department. Senator Bailey voted against bills that would add new criminal penalties for police misconduct that is already subject to criminal penalties and could be handled administratively and create a three-member board, only one of whom is a police officer and that officer must be of a higher rank and two civilians to advise chiefs and sheriffs in cases of police discipline.
Senator Bailey also voted against Senate Bill 178, which would make all police misconduct records, including those based on unfounded complaints, to be subject to public inspection. During the floor debate on this bill, Senator Bailey voted for an amendment that would have protected officers’ reputations by preventing unfounded complaints from being included in the disclosure required by the bill. The Senator also voted for an amendment to make the same requirements apply to members of the General Assembly. These amendments, however, were unsuccessful.
Senator Bailey introduced an amendment to this bill that would have required law enforcement agencies to maintain a record of “positive community feedback” for their officers and require that information to be subject to public disclosure. The amendment would have provided additional transparency and a clearer picture of the officer’s whole reputation. This amendment was also rejected by the full Senate.
On Thursday, the Senate considered Senate Bill 10, which would prohibit the possession of firearms in polling places. Many of these polling places are in schools, and the bill does not make the same exceptions for off-duty and retired police officers as currently exist in Maryland law for possession of firearms in schools. Senator Bailey introduced an amendment to add these exceptions to Senate Bill 10. This would not only ensure that these officers have the same rights on Election Day as they have every other day of the year and that officers and retired officers can protect voters if needed, but also that this bill does not add additional hurdles to police officers’ exercising their right to vote. Police officers cannot leave their gun in their car while they go in to vote. This would violate administrative policy, as the car could be broken into and the weapon could be stolen. Without this amendment, an off-duty officer would not be able to vote on their way home if they had their gun. This amendment was rejected by the full Senate. The bill has been held over until next week for further discussion.
Addressing Local Priorities
Senator Bailey is continuing to work with the governments in Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties to ensure that their local priorities are addressed during this session. On Wednesday, the Senator presented Senate Bill 861, which would give Commissioners of St. Mary’s County the authority to borrow money to construct public facilities in the County. Senator Bailey was joined by Jeannett Cudmore, Chief Financial Officer for St. Mary’s County, to testify in support of this legislation.
Route 6 Bridge Update
This week, the State Highway Administration announced that construction on the Maryland Route 6/New Market Turner Road bridge over Persimmon Creek will begin this Monday, March 8. SHA has previously announced that the bridge replacement will take approximately three months, weather permitting.
March 10 Bill Hearings
On March 10, Senator Bailey will be presenting three pieces of legislation on natural resources and hunting in Maryland to the Senate’s Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. The bills are Senate Bill 356, which would expand Sunday Hunting on private property in Calvert County, Senate Bill 899, which would enact policies to ensure a sustainable population of Canada geese, and Senate Joint Resolution 6, which would preserve the menhaden population of the Chesapeake Bay.
Anyone who is submitting written testimony on bills is required to upload it to the General Assembly’s website, mgaleg.maryland.gov. This will require registering for a “My MGA” account first. The account can be registered at any time, but the testimony on these bills will need to be uploaded between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Monday, March 8. The General Assembly’s website has videos to walk you through this process, which are available at: https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Information/VideoTutorials. The testimony must be saved as a PDF for the system to allow you to submit it.
Recognition of Student Page
Senator Bailey would like to recognize Isabella Nassau, a student at Leonardtown High School, for serving this week as one of the General Assembly’s pages.