The Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee continued to discuss bills this week related to policing in Maryland. The most controversial of these bills is Senate Bill 627, which would repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. This current law does not afford any special legal rights to law enforcement officers, but rather ensure that these officers have due process in disciplinary proceedings. This bill would take away these important occupational protections from law enforcement. The Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights was originally created in 1974 to stop the unjust treatment of police officers by their chiefs, predominantly to stop racial discrimination within police departments.
Senate Bill 627 is an overreaction to events driven primarily by national politics and interest groups as a result of a small number of high-profile incidents that have occurred in other states. The discussion about this bill was almost exclusively focused on concerns from one jurisdiction – Baltimore City. Instead of taking a targeted approach to the concerns of the residents of this one jurisdiction, Senate Bill 627 instead implements a one-size-fits-all approach through a broad set of new laws that will significantly change how law enforcement operates in the entire state, including St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties. As a retired law enforcement officer, Senator Bailey understands the need to discipline officers who engage in misconduct but he also knows the importance of these occupational protections to recruiting and maintaining police forces throughout our State.
Another bill, Senate Bill 178, allows any record of an investigation of misconduct by a law enforcement officer, including accusations and those ruled to be unfounded, to be subject to the Maryland Public Information Act. This holds law enforcement officers to a higher standard than other public employees or officials. Senator Bailey voted to support amendments to this bill to make these increased disclosure requirements apply not only to law enforcement, but other public employees and members of the General Assembly. These amendments were defeated on a party-line vote. Senator Bailey voted against this bill that will discourage Marylanders from serving as police officers and make our State less safe.
Taxpayer Money for Illegal Immigrants
Last week, Senator Bailey was proud to vote for Senate Bill 496, the Governor’s RELIEF Act, which will provide needed financial assistance to many of those who have suffered economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. On Monday, the Governor signed this emergency legislation to get relief out to Marylanders as quickly as possible.
In contrast to this important bipartisan consensus legislation, the Senate voted this week to give millions of dollars to individuals who do not use a Social Security Number to file their taxes, including illegal immigrants. This will be done by altering the earned income credit, which is currently available only to citizens by requiring the use of a Social Security Number. This is a “refundable” tax credit and the amount of this credit can exceed the recipient’s income tax liability, meaning that this bill will give taxpayer money to those who are in this country illegally. Senator Bailey strongly opposes giving Maryland taxpayer money to illegal immigrants, particularly after the General Assembly voted last week to raise taxes over the Governor’s veto, and voted against this legislation.
Route 6 Bridge
This week, the State Highway Administration provided an update on the replacement of the Maryland Route 6/New Market Turner Road bridge over Persimmon Creek, which was damaged as a result of Tropical Storm Isaias in August of 2020. SHA will begin the bridge replacement project next month and anticipates that construction will take approximately three months, weather permitting. More information on this project is available through SHA’s project portal.
In a normal legislative session, Senator Bailey would welcome constituents to Annapolis to hear their concerns regarding legislation pending before the General Assembly. Like many events, due to the health and safety protocols as well as this session’s unusual and changing schedule, these advocacy days look very different to those in prior years. However, Senator Bailey’s office is continuing to hear from residents of District 29 about issues that are important to them. This week, our local liaison Lynn Delahay met on the Senator’s behalf with constituents virtually to discuss issues related to dentistry, community mediation, and treating mental illness.
Recognition of Student Page
Senator Bailey would like to recognize Jesse Harris, Jr., a student at St. Mary’s Ryken High School, for serving this week as one of the General Assembly’s pages.