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Friday, March 21, 2014

Week 10: Delegate McDermott's Field Notes

Monday Evening Session:
Tuesday Afternoon Judiciary Hearings:
  HB 235    Del K. Kelly, et al Criminal Law - Death Penalty - Law Enforcement Officers and Correctional Officers
  HB 388    Del Carter, et al   Inmates - Life Imprisonment - Parole Approval
  HB 601    Del Stukes Crim Procedure - Explanation of Expungement
                                 Provsns Relating to Proposed Dispn of Charge
  HB 651    Del Impallaria    Courts - Aggravated Murder Court
  HB 680    Del Carter  Public Safety - DNA Samples and Records - Collection, Use, Storage, and Expungement
  HB 896    Del Rosenberg     Criminal Procedure - Expungement - Convictions
  HB 1109   Del Swain         Criminal Procedure - Search Warrants - Procedures
  HB 1166   Del Anderson     Maryland Second Chance Act of 2014 and Waldstreicher
  HB 1185   Del Parrott, et al Criminal Law - Crimes Against Property - Right to Defend Property
  HB 1189   Del Glass         Public Safety - Inappropriate Search of Minor by Public Servant - Penalties
  HB 1304   Del Carter, et al   Law Enforc Officers' Bill of Rgts - Interrogation Rgt to Counsel - Suspension
                                          Period and Appt
  HB 1330   Del Swain         Task Force to Reduce Incarceration in Maryland
  HB 1341   Del Mizeur        Sexual Assault Survivors' Right to Know Act
There was compelling testimony on HB-235 which would restore the Death Penalty for the murder of a law enforcement officer or correctional officers when the crime happens while they are working in the course of their duties as such.  It was pointed out that it has become increasingly difficult to manage inmates serving life and there have been several attacks on correctional officers as a result of the death penalty elimination. No one testified in opposition to this bill.
There were several bills addressing Expungement issues. One would require the court to instruct folks about the Expungement process before accepting any plea in a criminal case.  It was claimed that many accept plea agreements without realizing that they may not qualify for an Expungment in the future. Some of the bills would allow for Expungement of actual criminal records if certain time requirements were met.
HB-1341 would require a law enforcement agency to provide specific information to the victim of a sexual assault to the victim regarding any evidence uncovered and collected from a Sex Assault Kit. There were also bills to address the collection and storage of DNA samples.

Wednesday Morning Voting Session:
Wednesday Afternoon Judiciary Hearings:
HB-1271 would allow government entities to be sued over lead based paint claims.
HB-1389 seeks to create a task force to study the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Wednesday Afternoon Judiciary Committee Voting Session:
Bills Moved Favorably
HB-921HB-957HB-962HB-985,  HB-1015, HB-1182, HB-1200HB-1202,
Thursday Afternoon Judiciary Hearings:
  HB 879    Del Mizeur        Maryland Marijuana Decriminalization Act
  HB 880    Del Anderson      Marijuana Control Act of 2014 (Jointly assigned to JUD and W&M)
  HB 889    Del Impallaria    Marijuana Laws - Full Disclosure of Legal Employment, and Health Risks
                                              (Jointly assigned to JUD and HGO)
  HB 1016   Del Dwyer         Cannabis Freedom Act
  HB 1371   Del Arora, et al   Crim Proc - Financial Crimes Against Vulnerable
                                               and Elder Adlts - Petition to Freeze Assets
  HB 1416   Dels Mitchell and Clippinger   Crimes - Gang-Free Zones - Penalties for Gang Activity             
  HB 1449   Del Jones         Criminal Procedure - Marijuana Diversion Program
  HB 1533   Del Dumais        Commission on Child Custody Decision Making -Extension
Today is Marijuana Day in Judiciary. The principle bills that were debated involved the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana. An interesting mix of those testifying on these bills…a room full of those in uniform and those who probably have marijuana (THC) in their system at the time of the hearing.  HB-1449 would mandate some type of Marijuana Diversion Program statewide. This has a significant fiscal impact on local governments most of whom are already engaged in diversion programs for minor offenses which include marijuana possession.
The legalization or decriminalization bills received the bulk of the testimony that went on for several hours. We heard from the law enforcement community and State’s Attorney’s Association about how this was as bad idea. Of course we heard from those who seek to legalize and/or decriminalize (just turn it into a Civil Infraction with a fine) and a few folks who think marijuana is a cure all for every ailment under the sun. Chairman Vallario does not seem inclined to move any of the marijuana bills at this time.
Friday Morning Session:
Contested Bills:
HB-727 is the “Prevailing Wage” bill which would require local governments to pay much higher wages for projects which receive state funding. This is mostly seen in school building projects. This bill will increase the cost of building schools by 11%-25%. There was a Task Force assigned to study this issue and provide a report to the General Assembly this year. The final report has been stalled and it appears this has been intentional since the report is not expected to support the idea of moving the current bill forward. The information that is available makes it quite clear that the prevailing wage would significantly increase the cost of school construction. This is a union sponsored bill and since this is an election year, the democrats were lining up and voting lock step for this terrible bill. Several good amendments were resisted that would have minimized the damage to many jurisdictions around the state.
HB-1168 would stop the Bay Wind Project from moving forward in Somerset County as it would place an impact ring moving out from the naval facilities at the Patuxent Naval Air Station to a distance of 50-miles. In that area, no large wind turbines would be allowed without the expressed approval of the Department of Defense and Naval Operations. The restrictions would remain in effect until any studies were completed on the impact of the land based wind turbines on the ground based radar operating out of the PAX River facility. There are people in Somerset on both sides of the issue. Many are concerned over the impact to wildlife and potential nuisance and safety issues for people. The effect of the turbines economically would be significant. Tens of millions would come into the county coffers as well as the individual land owners and energy generated would be fed into the local grid at a reasonable market rate. Many were concerned about the potential impact on secret testing projects that are conducted by the Department of Defense and private contractors in southern Maryland. While this is certainly a concern for all of us, the delays on the wind project mean another company who played by the rules in Maryland saw those rules changed after they had sunk millions into a project. The bill moves to the senate for disposition.
Friday Afternoon Judiciary Hearing:
HB-1552 would increase the salary for Orphan’s Court Judges in from the current rate of $6400 per year to $9500 per year.
Friday Afternoon Voting Session in Judiciary:
Bills Approved Favorable by Committee
Saturday Morning Session:
Debated Bills:
HB-298 would dramatically alter the method by which hospitals operate as a part of Obamacare. Many believe these changes will lead to rationing of care and the death of patients as a direct result since the delivery system is not in place to accommodate these changes.
HB-579 would require the Maryland Dept. of Labor to provide enforcement services to counties who have different Minimum Wage salaries than the state. If counties want to go their own way, they should pay for any enforcement actions in my opinion.
HB-1025would mandate the method and form of replacing certain contractual jobs within the state.
HB-1026 would expand parental leave required for businesses to provide their employees and would expand the perimeters where the leave could be applied.
HB-1314 would allow the Maryland Attorney General to be compensated for any cases he prosecutes and wins relating to salary and wage disputes with a business.
Saturday Evening Session:
Debated Bills:
HB-1181 eliminates the sunset provisions governing the Labor Relations Board for public schools. Proof once again that the sun never sets in the Maryland legislature.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,
How about a death penalty law for law enforcement officers that murder unarmed citizens? How about criminal charges for LEO's that instigate then escalate deadly situations for less than misdemeanor infractions?? Seems like that is more appropriate don't ya think? Should someone die for thumbing their nose up at a cops ridiculous unconstitutional "order"?
How about a law that dis-arms police?
Many countries police officers do not carry guns? Better yet, how about an open carry law for everyone in Maryland?? I think that would stop some of the paranoid cop killings.

Anonymous said...

No argument from me on Conceal Carry. I have supported it. I did not vote to do away with the Death Penalty, but the democrats got rid of it for any circumstance.

For the record:
A law enforcement officer can always be charged with a crime if they commit a crime. All homicides are investigated...cops or no cops...justification is relevant in a case by case basis. There is no separate criminal code for individuals just because they wear a badge.

It can be difficult to wait for the outcome of any investigation when portions of a case are played out in the media. It is wise to wait and allow the system to function accordingly. The wheels grind slowly...yet, they grind.
-Delegate Mike McDermott