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Newly organized, powerful Maryland black legislators name top priorities

Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, chair of the legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, highlights the priority issues that the Caucus will be working on, during a press conference on the opening day of the Maryland General Assembly. At left is Del. Charles E. Sydnor III, and at right, Del. Darryl Barnes.
Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, chair of the legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, highlights the priority issues that the Caucus will be working on, during a press conference on the opening day of the Maryland General Assembly. At left is Del. Charles E. Sydnor III, and at right, Del. Darryl Barnes. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun)

A reinvigorated Legislative Black Caucus announced Wednesday it will demand a five-point agenda during this General Assembly session, seeking resolution to unequal funding of historically black colleges and a new medical marijuana commission, among other issues.

Caucus chairwoman Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat, said the 48-member bloc of state lawmakers have reorganized, elected new leadership, and plan to aggressively pursue a handful of issues.

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"We're ready to hit the ground running," she said. "These are issues that are urgently important."

On education, the caucus wants to limit school suspensions for pre-kindergartners and students under 7 years old, as well as support Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh's plan to return control of the city's school board to the mayor's office.

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The caucus supports abolishing Maryland's cash bail system. Its members want to bring more transparency to how police departments use body cameras and aerial footage, and when that information can be released to the public.

The caucus members also back a plan by health care groups and Attorney General Brian Frosh aimed at preventing drug companies from price gouging.

The annual 90-day General Assembly session begin in Annapolis Wednesday morning.

Glenn said the caucus has not drafted legislation for any of its proposals yet.

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