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Legislative Work

Systemic Solutions for Systemic Issues

Our political advocacy is based on the cultivation of deep relationships to many segments of the Black community and to use the support that this provides us as our primary leverage to advocate policy positions that are in the interest of Black people. Our ability to impact policy is based on the years of community organizing and community service that has translated to a base of support that authentically represents the depth and diversity of the Black community in Baltimore.

We also tap into the rich cultural and intellectual resources that reside in our community to form the basis of our intellectual and political analysis. Our fidelity to the Black Radical Tradition and a worldview rooted in Pan Africanism guides the intellectual production that guides our approach to our political advocacy.

a smiling group photo of individuals involved in LBS's legislative efforts

2024 Legislative Agenda

Defense against attempts to repeal the Child Interrogation Protection Act and other Juvenile Justice reform laws

In 2022, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Child Interrogation Protection Act (CIPA). This legislation mandates that before a police officer can conduct a custodial interrogation of a minor, their parent must be notified, and an attorney must be present. 

The purpose of this law is to protect youth from being coerced into giving false confessions to law enforcement. The law enforcement establishment has vehemently opposed this legislation and other juvenile justice reform measures. 

During the 2024 session, we will need to apply pressure to the legislature to ensure that this law is not repealed or watered down.

Authorizing Police Accountability Boards with independent investigatory powers

The Police Accountability Act of 2021 required each jurisdiction to establish Police Accountability Boards. These boards should ideally be comprised of community members representing the community. 

While the new accountability framework invites more external involvement in the discipline and oversight of police officers, they still largely rely on investigations conducted by the department. 

This bill would allow PABs to conduct independent, external investigations to ensure transparency.

Reparations

Our policy battle in Maryland began with a focus on using the legalization of recreational cannabis to establish reparations for the war on drugs. Through the establishment of the Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund, we were able to achieve this objective. 

Now, we aim to expand the fight for reparations using the same mechanism of the Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund to establish revenues that will redistribute more money into this fund for the purpose of repairing the harm done to Black people by the system of white supremacy.

Remove criminal penalties for the possession of cannabis

Even though Maryland has legalized recreational cannabis, there are still criminal penalties for the possession of cannabis above 2.5 oz. 

The fact that cannabis is legal, and people are not likely to keep track of the exact amount on them, presents the risk of individuals being exposed to interactions with the criminal justice system merely because they possess an amount of cannabis above the 2.5 oz limit. 

Eliminating criminal penalties and replacing them with civil citations for possession above the 2.5 limit will reduce the exposure that Black people have to the criminal justice system.

2024 Legislation

Want to stay informed on our upcoming legislation?

Use the LBS Bill Tracker! The page will be updated daily with information on how YOU can take action and support legislation that benefits OUR community !

Past Legislative Work

  • Expungement for people convicted of simple possession of cannabis.
  • Opportunity for people to have their records expunged for possession with intent to distribute after 3 years.
  • Increase in allowed personal amount from 10oz to 1.5 grams.
  • Allow for homegrow for up to 2 plants per household.
  • Establishment of Community repair and reinvestment fund, which will bring tax revenues from the industry directly to communities impacted by the war on drugs.
  • Advocated successfully for amendments to the (MPIA) that would allow for public access for police investigatory records. 
  • Worked to repeal the Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights and replace it with a disciplinary framework that would allow for community oversight.  Even though LEOBR was repealed – and it allowed for more community participation in the internal police disciplinary process – it did not create community oversight.
  • Partnered with Conscious Heads Barbershop to pass legislation that would allow for master barbers to apprentice three barbers at a time instead of just one.  This bill helped to support the workforce development project of Conscious Heads and Reflections Eternal to train more barbers and professionalize the industry.
  • Worked on unsuccessfully to create amendments to Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) that would allow public access to police investigatory records.  This would allow for more public oversight of law enforcement. 
  • Advocated for the creation of a $10 million fund for community based anti-violence programs as an alternative to mandatory minimum legislation.  This bill passed, was vetoed by the Governor and overridden by the legislature.
  • Passed legislation in the Baltimore City Council that established BCYF as an independent and permanent organization. 
  • Fought legislation that would authorize the establishment of a John Hopkins University (JHU) private police force.  This bill ultimately passed, but there continues to be local resistance to it.
  • Advocated for legislation that would create a Baltimore City Anti-Violence grant program as an alternative to the focus creating mandatory minimum legislation.  The justification for this legislation is that investing in Black led, grassroots anti-violence programs are more effective in deterring violence than sentence enhancements. This bill did not pass.
  • Worked with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office to successfully pass legislation that would allow the vacatur of convictions that were based on testimony from corrupt police officers.

Fought against a bipartisan crime package that included mandatory minimum sentences – which are ineffective at addressing public safety and fueled the prison industrial complex.

  • Worked to fight against legislation that would nullify a court of appeals ruling on pretrial reform.  The MD Court of Appeals ruled to reduce the use of cash bail and prefer non-financial conditions for release. If bail was assigned, it needed to be affordable to the defendant.  The bail bonds industry put in a bill that would use the legislature to reverse that court of appeals ruling.  LBS, and our partners, worked to defeat the legislation that would have nullified this ruling –  which would lessen the burden of cash bail on poor people in Maryland.
  • Crafted legislation in the Baltimore City Council to begin the process of building the infrastructure for the Baltimore City Children and Youth Fund (BCYF).
  • Opposed and defeated a piece of legislation in the Baltimore City Council that would create a 1 year mandatory minimum for mere possession of a firearm in a public place.

Worked on amendments to LEOBR that were in the bill we advocated for in 2015 – which includes requiring that civilians serve on administrative hearing boards and the non-law enforcement entities are allowed to participate in the internal investigations of police misconduct.  The legislation that passed was a change that allowed civilians to serve on trial boards (though it is not required).  What did not pass was allowing non-law enforcement to participate in the internal investigation of police misconduct.

Worked on amendments to the Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights (LEOBR).  The primary focus of our advocacy that year was to require that civilians serve on the trial boards and to allow non-law enforcement entities to be involved in the internal investigations of police misconduct.  This bill did not make it out of committee that year.

Passed Christopher’s Law, named after Christopher Brown who was killed by an off duty police officer in Baltimore County in 2012.  This law required additional racial sensitivity and deescalation training.  Additionally, it required that police officers learn CPR, due to the fact that the officer that killed Christopher Brown could have saved him if he knew how to do CPR.

Pressured the MD legislature and governor to abandon the plan to build a new youth detention center in east Baltimore.