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Johns Hopkins spent $581,000 on lobbying during push for armed police force

Johns Hopkins spent $581,000 on lobbying during push for armed police force
In its push to gain authorization for an armed police force, Johns Hopkins spent more than half a million dollars on lobbying lawmakers in Annapolis this past legislative session. In this file photo, protestors opposed to the force lie in front of a police van after the arrest of several people outside Garland Hall. (Jerry Jackson / Baltimore Sun)

In its push to gain authorization for an armed police force, Johns Hopkins spent more than half a million dollars on lobbying lawmakers in Annapolis this past legislative session.

The $581,000 Hopkins paid out during its lobbying effort marked a 58 percent increase from the 2018 session, when the university and hospital paid lobbyists $367,000, according to disclosure forms Hopkins filed with the State Ethics Commission that were released this month.

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Hopkins was the third-biggest spender on lobbying in the state of Maryland for the 2019 General Assembly session, which ended in April. Only the Maryland State Education Association, which spent $784,000 as the teachers’ union pushed for more funding for public schools, and Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which spent $606,000 weighing in on legislation affecting the energy company, spent more.

Six individual lobbyists made more than $1 million for their work during the session. Gerry Evans was paid the most, $2.4 million, followed by Bruce Bereano, who took in $1.9 million, according to the ethics commission.

The Hopkins police bill was one of the most hotly debated pieces of legislation this year, but both chambers of the Democrat-controlled General Assembly passed the measure overwhelmingly.

The Senate voted 42-2 to approve the final version of the bill, dubbed the “Community Safety and Strengthening Act.” The two votes against came from Baltimore Democrats Mary Washington and Jill P. Carter, who expressed deep reservations about allowing the creation of a police force for a private institution. The House of Delegates voted 94-42 vote in favor.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, signed the bill, which became law July 1.

Some students and other activists fiercely opposed the plan, holding numerous protests, including a monthlong sit-in on Hopkins’ Homewood academic campus.

The law enables Hopkins to establish a police force of up to 100 armed officers that will patrol in defined areas around the Homewood campus, the medical campus in East Baltimore and the Peabody Institute music conservatory in Mount Vernon. The patrol areas include adjacent public residential streets. The law also requires the state to provide millions of dollars in funding to community programs in Baltimore.

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