ANNAPOLIS — Prince George’s County representatives pushed for several state initiatives that stronger enforcement on dumping bulky trash and tax credit for companies that open grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods.
One particular bill regarding speed camera became of the county’s top priorities because of crashes in southern Prince George’s along Route 210, considered one of the most dangerous highways in the region.
The Senate approved the legislation Monday, April 8, the last day of the session known as “Sine Die” and heads to the governor’s desk for a signature It allows the county to install no more than three cameras, formerly called speed monitoring systems, along the highway.
So far this year, police have issued more than 3700 citations and 18 DUI arrests along Route 210.
“The state of Maryland worked very closely with Prince George’s County to ensure that it was OK to put these speed cameras on 210,” said Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-District 24) of Landover. “If we do something on 210, it will also have a ripple effect on Branch Avenue…[and other highways].”
Before installation of each camera, the county must publish a notice on its website and newspaper of general circulation and indicate its use within a school zone. Businesses, trees and some residences are near the highway.
Sen. Edward Reilly (R-Anne Arundel County) asked would this legislation supersede the posting of speed cameras only near schools and construction zones.
Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-District 21), who represents both Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, said a current camera exists on the highway. It faces southbound at Route 210 and Old Fort Road near the Livingston Square shopping center in Fort Washington.
“It’s very serious issue in that area,” Rosapepe said. “This bill is not precedent setting. Number two, this is actually a good example of looking at … oversight by the General Assembly to make sure we are doing this in thoughtful way.”
The bill also requests the state Highway Administration and county’s Department of Public Works and Transportation to examine Route 210 on solutions to combat motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities. A report should be provided to the governor and General Assembly by May 31, 2021.
County Councilwoman Monique Anderson-Walker (D-District 8) of Fort Washington leads a driving initiative called “#DrivingItHome,” which aims to change drivers’ habits by targeting six areas: seat belt use, texting and driving, driver distractions, drunk driving, highway speeds and aggressive driving.
State lawmakers also approved legislation sponsored by those from Prince George’s.
Del. Jazz Lewis (D-District 24) of Landover authored legislation to end solitary confinement, also known as “restrictive housing,” for juveniles.
Minors are placed in solitary confinement if there’s an immediate risk to themselves, other inmates or staff, according to the legislation. However, the official of a facility must find “clear and convincing evidence” to do so.
In addition, the bill states that person must receive “daily physical and mental health assessments to determine whether the minor may be released from restrictive housing.”
One reason the bill resonated with colleagues, he said, is a virtual reality demonstration of a 6-by-9 cell with no windows and only one overhead light “that never turns off.”
It also helped that Akeem Browder traveled from New York City to testify last month before the House Judiciary Committee about his younger brother, Kalief Browder, 22, who hanged himself in 2015 after spending two of his three years housed at Rikers Island in solitary confinement while awaiting trial for allegedly stealing a backpack at the age of 16.
“I think this sends a message out to other states that we think enough of our children and the long-term damaging effects that solitary has to not place them in that environment,” Lewis said. “Our children won’t be placed in that environment anymore.”