Del. Mark Chang has re-introduced legislation barring the use of nooses or swastikas to threaten and intimidate people.
His bill almost passed at last year’s session but hit a wall on the final day. It was introduced late in the last session, so Chang is hopeful a pre-filed bill will have a better chance. He also thinks continued racist incidents in the county will spur lawmakers to action.
“It just got bottlenecked during sine die,” Chang said. “With the issue being of importance, it is important to address this and eradicate this hate that exists in the community.”
Chang’s bill is one of a few introduced by Anne Arundel County lawmakers before the General Assembly begins Jan. 9. Most lawmakers have not pre-filed legislation. This isn’t unusual especially in the first year of another four-year term.
This version of the noose bill isn’t different than what Chang introduced last year. That bill was amended to include nooses and swastikas under defacement laws. Chang introduced the original text of the bill that includes harsher punishments like three years’ jail time or a $5,000 fine. It is set for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee.
The original bill was introduced following a failed hate crime case in which a county judge found a man not guilty of a hate crime after a noose was found at Crofton Middle School. The judge called on lawmakers to tweak hate crime laws to include targeting larger groups of people and not individuals.
Lawmakers heeded that call and changed the laws last session, but Chang wanted to take it further with his noose bill. Since then multiple racist incidents have taken place including a noose found in the Chesapeake Bay Middle School bathroom and the words “kill all blacks” found at Chesapeake High School.
Maryland Smart Growth Investment Fund
Sen. Jim Rosapepe, D-Laurel, has pre-filed legislation again to create a smart growth investment fund based on a 2013 report recommending such.
That report recommends the state create a fund for public-private partnerships with a focus on “bringing together the expertise of government officials experienced with entitlement issues, issues of public benefit and working closely with communities, with private sector investment skills, discipline and resources.”
This means the fund would be used to help create projects meeting those goals, such as affordable housing.
Rosapepe’s bill calls for an initial appropriation of $7 million to the fund though investment is not required if committed capital within the fund is less than $25 million.
Rosapepe, whose district includes part of Anne Arundel County, did not return a request for comment.
Important session dates
The General Assembly returns to Annapolis Jan. 9 with a strong wave of Democrats alongside a popular Republican governor.
The last four years had plenty of fights between Democratic leadership and Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford.
Maryland’s budget is the site of much of the conflict between the legislature and executive office. Hogan has until Jan. 18 to introduce a budget bill to lawmakers.
Here are other important session dates:
- Jan. 30 — Governor delivers State of the State address.
- Feb. 4 — Senate bill introduced after this date must go through the Senate Rules Committee.
- Feb. 8 — House bills introduced after this date must go through the House Rules Committee.
- March 18 — Deadline for each chamber to send its bills to the opposite chamber. Bill received after this are sent to respective rules committees.
- April 1 — The budget bill must be passed by both chambers.
- April 8 — The final day of session otherwise known as “Sine Die.”