Cathryn Paul said Maryland will now join several states to ensure local jails don’t make money from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain people based on immigration-related matters and inquire about a person’s immigration status during traffic stops.
Another enacted law requires a state agency to deny federal agents to inspect personal information, photographs, or use facial recognition to enforce immigration law unless with a warrant.
“These bills are an extraordinary victory for Maryland,” said Paul, government relations and policy manager for CASA. “When we have policies that protect immigrants and treat immigrants with dignity and respect, immigrants would want to come to Maryland. I hope that Maryland would want to be a state that welcomes immigrants with open arms. If that is not the goal, then I don’t know what is.”
Those are among more than 20 bills Maryland lawmakers overrode from vetoes Gov. Larry Hogan made earlier this year.
The laws were enacted during a special session held Dec. 6-9 in Annapolis.
Another major law ratified restricts the governor from making final decisions on whether an inmate serving a life sentence can receive parole. Maryland served as one of the three states in the nation that allowed the governor to block parole decisions made by a parole board.
The 10-member state Parole Commission will now have the final say. Another part of the bill instructs the commission to record at least six affirmative votes to approve a person for parole, versus the previous allowance of up to three votes.
Legislators also enacted a grant program to help small businesses affected by the Purple Line light-rail construction in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. Starting in fiscal year 2023, a merchant can apply to receive no more than $50,000 based on certain criteria such as 20 or fewer employees, independently owned and operated and not a subsidiary of another business.
Other bills the legislature enacted with a heavily-Democratic majority included the right for employees who work at all of the state’s 16 community colleges to collectively bargain.
“It could create unsustainable costs for counties. It’s an unfunded mandate,” Del Susan Krebs (R-Carroll County) said during last week’s debate. “While I understand the desire for job security, I do not understand why this bill comes at a time when community colleges are at their most fragile.”
Del. Jazz Lewis (D-District 24) of Glenarden said the bill provides workers an opportunity for better salaries and safer environments.
“Working people in this state not only deserve to earn a decent wage [but] they deserve decent working conditions and a predictable schedule,” he said after the House adjourned on the last day of the special session Thursday, Dec. 9. “All these things are allowed when you are able to collectively bargain.”
State Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City) said none of the bills should’ve been vetoed by the governor, especially eliminating the governor’s role in parole decisions.
“We have to take steps to chip away at our policies that have created this disparity over the incarceration of Black people,” she said. “The session was smooth. The two leaders [House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Sen. President Bill Ferguson] did a great job. They whooped us all into shape and got us out of here quickly. It was low drama.”