Maryland Lawmakers Still Negotiating on Police Reform

The bill would repeal the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights and ban chokeholds in Maryland

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Maryland lawmakers kept negotiating on a package of extensive police reform legislation on Friday, but they will miss a deadline to pass the legislation to Gov. Larry Hogan in time for them to override any potential vetoes of the legislation this year before they adjourn April 12.

The Maryland Senate passed a large omnibus bill that originated in the House late Thursday night on a 32-15 vote, but senators made some changes that still require House approval before the bill can go to the governor.

Several other police reform measures also have yet to be passed, as the legislature approaches a Saturday deadline to present legislation to the governor, requiring him to act on them before they adjourn.

Neither chamber is scheduled to return until Monday.

The General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, still has plenty of time to approve the measures before adjournment, but if Hogan were to veto any of them, lawmakers would have to wait until the next legislative session to override any vetoes.

Hogan has not taken a position on any of the legislation so far.

The measures include repeal of job protections long criticized for impeding accountability in misconduct cases known as the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. Legislation also would put limits on no-knock warrants and create a statewide use-of-force standard that bans chokeholds. Lawmakers also are weighing a duty-to-intervene provision requiring an officer to make a reasonable effort to prevent use of excessive force.

Police reform has been a top priority this year for the legislature, which is controlled by Democrats. A sweeping measure sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne Jones was set in motion by a workgroup she named in May after nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

The Senate passed nine bills of its own earlier this session. In debate Thursday night, senators who opposed the speaker's bill criticized the complex legislative process of having one large bill in the House and the nine separate bills approved by the Senate, which passed a majority of those measures unanimously.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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