The Maryland General Assembly adjourned at midnight after hours of debate Monday, marking the end of a session packed with bills on issues from pandemic relief to police reform.
Here are a few bills that you should know about:
Police reform and the Justice System
Lawmakers voted a set of police reform bills into law Saturday, overriding vetoes of several component bills by Gov. Larry Hogan. The legislation repeals the state’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights — job protections for officers which critics have said presented a barrier to police accountability.
The package creates a unit in the attorney general’s office to investigate deaths involving police officers, restricts when force can be used as part of a new statewide policy, facilitates public access to certain disciplinary records and mandates all state police departments to use body cameras by 2026.
Legislators also voted to abolish life sentences for minors, overriding a veto by Hogan. Another bill, to remove the governor’s role in the parole process for individuals serving life sentences, awaits action from Hogan — or he could let it become law without his signature.
Legislators did not pass the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021, which, as it was first introduced would have set a goal to reduce statewide carbon emissions by 60 percent from 2006 levels by 2030 and achieve net neutral emissions by 2045.
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The House of Delegates and the Senate ended up with significantly different versions of the bill and couldn’t reconcile their differences before the midnight deadline.
Another climate bill, the FUTURE Act, which was backed by student activists at this university, did not make it past its initial committee hearing in either chamber.
The bill would have mandated public colleges and universities in the state to achieve carbon neutrality for its direct emissions and some of its indirect emissions by 2025. Schools would have needed to achieve neutrality for certain kinds of emissions by 2035.
A bill to allow a union representing employees across University System of Maryland institutions to negotiate a single agreement for certain benefits passed the legislature this session, as did a bill that grants bargaining rights to community college employees. The bills have been sent to the governor. A yearslong push to grant those rights to graduate students, however, did not gain traction early in the session.
The Transfer with Success Act, which lawmakers approved on Monday, would require higher education institutions that deny a transfer of a credit or course to notify the student and provide the reason for the denial.
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Lawmakers also approved a bill that would provide free menstrual products to students at state public schools. Every public middle and high school would be required to install dispensers for tampons or pads in at least two women’s restrooms by 2022 and in every women’s restroom by 2025.
Several bills passed this session, including one that prevents federal agencies without a valid warrant from accessing state driving records for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws and another that bans private immigration detention facilities. Both, however, are facing a veto threat from Hogan, according to DCist.