The stakes are bigger this year.
Session is back and the usual cast has returned. The first weeks of session were crammed with pomp and celebration. The movers are moving, the clueless are idling and the lobbyists are hustling. And our sons and daughters continue to be slain in the streets.
This past Friday, a cease fire was called. At the time of this writing, the weekend closed with three murders and fourteen shootings. After five years of skyrocketing murder rates, Baltimore City has produced the most deadly year in recorded history. I would question any elected official who isn’t screaming at the top of their lungs about public safety.
For years, a plethora of public safety reform measures have been pressed in Annapolis and not even given a vote. I have talked with many lawmakers since the session started and the buzz is slightly different. One of my colleagues said “it might be time for an all hands on deck.”
That sounds nice. However, we already see the same posturing we see every year. The legislature has already divided itself on party lines. I have personally witnessed amendments drafted by defense attorneys and shuffled to the hands of lawmakers to kill and water down pro-public safety bills in committee. There is a possibility to move on positive public safety measures this year – but I can most certainly feel a war coming to get there.
This year is different. No story makes the problem clearer than that of Scott McKemy, who spoke of the murder of his son Bryan. Bryan McKemy was killed by a man named David Warren. Warren’s rap sheet has 230 criminal counts on it, with 58 assaults, 66 firearm offenses, 24 robberies and 24 counts of attempted murder. At a joint hearing in Annapolis, I questioned States Attorney Marilyn Mosby on why David Warren was on the streets with 230 criminal counts. She informed me that of the cases her office drops, 35% of the cases are dropped because witnesses and victims are too scared to testify. There are several pieces of witness protection legislation before us this year.
If lawmakers aren’t compelled to take action by the stories of murdered sons and daughters, they need to resign. If the obstructionism keeps up, we may need to start publicly calling out the obstructionists by name.
Please know that I take our public safety issues very seriously and I am working – be it my bill or the bill of another – toward safer streets and safer communities. I am including a list of some of the bills I am working on, as well as some of the joint caucus legislation. Please feel free to reach out to my office for any reason.
Delegate Robin Grammer
HB 61 – Income Tax – Subtraction Modification – Retirement Income – This bill exempts all retirement income from taxation. The cost of living in Maryland and in the Baltimore region is soaring and we are pricing our retirees out of the state. Taxing retirement income is despicable. We should work towards making life more affordable for those on fixed incomes.
HB 75 – Clerks of the Courts – Case Management System – Information on Judge or Magistrate – Maryland is the only state which does not list the names of judges on its public judiciary case search. This bill would require the names of judges to be included with case information so the public has a more clear picture about what is happening in our courts.
HB 76 – Criminal Procedure – Victims and Witnesses – Restrictions on Release of Personal Information – This bill would expand shielding of the personal information of victims and witnesses. Baltimore is the “stop snitching” capital of the country which contributes to our inability to convict criminals. We should expand protections for victims to help put violent offenders behind bars.
HB 626 – Baltimore County – Repossession – Disposition of Property – Landlords do not have authority to dispose of abandoned property after an eviction. This means many properties will sit full of abandoned garbage for days. This bill authorizes the immediate disposal of abandoned property to help deal with community blight.
HB 836 – Sewage Treatment Plants – Effluent Discharges – Impacts on Midge Populations – The sediments released from the wastewater treatment plant feed and contribute to the growth of midges, which are tiny flies that can completely overwhelm properties near the water. This is a massive problem for waterfront houses and businesses in our district. This bill would put in place a reporting framework to help more clearly understand the impact of this problem so that we can adopt more data-driven solutions.
HB 846 – Public Schools – Reporting of Assaults, Crimes of Violence, and Felonies (Report Act of 2020) – Leadership and administration continues to perpetuate a sweep-it-under-the-rug culture in Baltimore County Public Schools. The readmission of a rapist at Parkvile High School and his subsequent offense show the clear need for more transparency in our school system. This bill would require an administrative report and a police report be filed and provided to the parents of victims any time an assault, crime of violence or felony occurs in a public school. Victims and parent should be able to count on our schools to be advocates and required reporting would ensure that these issues are not ignored.
Stopping Dangerous and Violent Offenders Act of 2020 – In 2019, there were 86 suspects arrested for violent crime in Baltimore City. Of those 86 suspects, more than 50 percent of them had been previously arrested for violent crime, nearly 13 percent were prior homicide suspects, and nearly 45 percent had been arrested for gun crimes. Under current law, a person convicted of a violent crime must serve at least 50 percent of their sentence. The Stopping Dangerous and Violent Offenders Act of 2020 will require those who are convicted of violent crimes serve at least 90 percent of their sentence before they are eligible for parole.
Protecting Marylanders from Violent Crime Act of 2020 – There has been a disturbing trend in many areas of our state where local governments have decided not to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a wholesale level, even in cases where there are immigration detainers on violent offenders. Protecting Marylanders from Violent Crime Act of 2020 requires state and local corrections officials to comply with ICE detainers on the worst offenders; terrorists, violent criminals, and gang members.
Gun Theft is a Felony Act of 2020 – Annapolis focuses on the firearm ownership of law-abiding citizens. Meanwhile, no attention is given to the firearm theft. A major contributor to violent crime, firearm theft is only a misdemeanor. The Gun Theft is a Felony Act of 2020 makes the theft of a firearm a felony with a minimum sentence of 2 years and a maximum sentence of 5 years for the first offense. A second or subsequent conviction carries a sentence of at least 5 years with a maximum of 10 years in prison.