Here’s an update on what’s happening in Annapolis at the end of the ninth week of the 2023 Legislative Session.
Weekly Video Update from Annapolis - Week 9
It was an incredibly busy week – please watch my weekly video update and get caught up by clicking the picture below.
Senate Floor Debates on Abortion Amendment and Gun Legislation
With 34 days left in the 2023 General Assembly Session, sadly we still have not seen any bills dealing with stopping violent crime and getting violent offenders off our streets. Additionally, neither house has passed a balance state budget yet.
However, this week on the Senate Floor we debated legislation on the Senate floor dealing with abortion and taking firearm rights from law-abiding citizens but not criminals. Here are two of the worst bills that were on the Senate floor this week:
Senate Bill 1 seeks to dramatically limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their wear and carry permit firearm rights and make it more expensive and time consuming to get them. This is in response to the Supreme Court's Bruen decision last year which struck down Maryland's unconstitutional "may issue" carry permit law. Before the Supreme Court acted, a law-abiding citizen had to prove why they should have a permit and it was very restrictive.
SB 798 attempts to enshrine the unlimited right to abortion up to birth of a child, with essentially no protections or exceptions, into the Constitution of Maryland. I'm pro-life but no matter where one's beliefs on abortion lies, it is clear that Maryland is already one of the most accessible states when it comes to abortion already.
On Friday, I and other Senate Republicans introduced amendments to the bill, one of which would have added the word “safe” to the right, to ensure that women would receive safe reproductive health services. Unfortunately, all seven of the Republican amendments were rejected and the bill will be up for final approval in the Senate early next week. The House of Delegates has already approved its version of the bill. To better understand why this bill is so far-reaching, you can watch my questioning on SB 798 from the Senate floor by clicking here.
These two bills will receive final votes on the Senate floor either Monday night or Tuesday. These and other bills that deal with prisoner comforts, and investigating police (see below) are moving through the General Assembly, while legislation targeting repeat violent offenders and violent juveniles has not moved. The focus of the liberal majority in the General Assembly continues to target law-abiding citizens instead of going after the bad guys.
Good News - Ready Initiative on Police Body Worn Cameras Passes Senate
On Tuesday, SB 330 – my legislation to help local county and town police departments bring down the cost for body worn cameras and video storage – passed unanimously. This was a bipartisan effort, supported by the Maryland Chiefs and Sheriffs Association, to support local law enforcement operations, training, and transparency, and keeping our communities safe. The initiative allows local departments to join in with statewide procurements which brings the price of body camera systems down significantly, so it’s also a good deal for taxpayers. The House version of this bill has passed over to the Senate as well so this should move quickly to the Governor’s desk.
Senate Passes Bill Giving Attorney General Brown Authority to Prosecute Police-Involved Deaths – Takes Authority Away from Locally Elected Prosecutors
Over bipartisan objections, SB 290 - Office of the Attorney General - Independent Investigations Division - Authority to Prosecute, passed the Senate this week. SB 290 is a power grab by the new Attorney General and grants the Independent Investigations Divisions (IID) new authority to prosecute all police-involved deaths across the State, usurping responsibility from local State’s Attorneys. This is an expansion of the IID’s power, which was granted as part of “police reform” legislation passed two years ago that created the unit to investigate all police-involved deaths.
None of Maryland’s State’s Attorneys supported the bill, and 23 out of 24 testified against it.
Instead of focusing on combating Maryland’s violent crime crisis, the gerrymandered Democratic supermajority continues to advance an anti-police agenda. Yet, they wonder why so many law enforcement agencies around the state continue to be understaffed and why so many officers are leaving the profession.
SB 290 is the first of several bills presented this session to expand the power of the Maryland Attorney General.
Maryland Matters: Gun bill receives preliminary approval in the Senate
AP: Maryland Senate passes bill to enable AG to prosecute police