Lawmakers from Baltimore and surrounding counties who attended the final Town Hall sponsored by the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus (LBC) were still reeling from U.S. District Court Judge James K. Bredar’s recent decision to ignore the preference of the Baltimore community members by instead appointing a “combined team” of individuals to serve as the independent monitor for Baltimore’s consent decree with the federal department of justice.  

State Sen. Joan Carter Conway said the lawmakers are weighing their options and deciding how best to intervene.     

“The Caucus will monitor this issue and make it one of our priorities,” said Del. Curt Anderson, chair of the Baltimore City Delegation (Baltimore-43).

“A federal judge doesn’t have that ability [to appoint a team] not being representative of the people of Baltimore,” Anderson said to the room of 200 city and county residents.  

With respect to other LBC priorities, Del. Cheryl Glenn (Baltimore-45), LBC chair, said she has made it clear to Attorney General Brian Frosh that the HBCU equity trial must run its course when Judge Catherine E. Blake makes her final ruling in the remedial phase of the trial, expected at any time.

“We’ve spoken to the Attorney General’s Office and let them know that we want this case settled. We will not tolerate an appeal of this case,” Glenn said.  

Glenn said the LBC stands ready to intervene if the state makes any movement toward appealing the final outcome of the 10-year-old lawsuit brought by alumni, students and supporters of Maryland’s four HBCU’s that alleges widespread continuing discrimination in the state’s higher education system.

The LBC reported on the group’s leadership in passing legislation during the 2017 session to protect Maryland residents against prescription price gouging. Del. Mary Washington (Baltimore-43) reported on the legislation preventing suspension and expulsion of young children from public schools passed in March 2017.  

“It wasn’t easy, but we had to draw a line when it came to suspending our youngest children,” Washington said.

Anderson said bail reform is still on the table for the 2018 session and admitted the LBC was not united in their views on eliminating excessive bail for minor offenses.

“It was a rather contentious issue that we tried to resolve this legislative session,” he said.

Glenn vowed that the General Assembly would act in early 2018 on her legislation to ensure minority participation in the state’s nascent cannabis industry.

“We’re asking that this legislation become Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1 and that this legislation will be passed as emergency legislation at the beginning of the session,” she said. “You will know.”