Welcome to Neighborhood FORWARD’s first legislative roundup. Each Friday, we will be highlighting bills that Black and Brown folks should be watching. We predict that these pieces of legislation would have a major impact, be it positive or negative, on our neighborhoods.
- Why we’re watching: SB66 would essentially signal an open season on nonviolent demonstrations. If passed, the bill would decriminalize hitting protesters with a vehicle or using other deadly force, as well as categorizing rioting as an assembly of at least six people violating state or federal laws. This bill is a direct attack on our First Amendment rights. If you want to learn more, we highly recommend this piece by the Rev. Darryl Gray.
- Why we’re watching: HB134 proposes banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, which are preferred by 80% of Black adult smokers. Prohibition against menthol cigarettes will not transform public health in Maryland, and any law that disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities increases the frequency of dangerous interactions between minorities and law enforcement. HB134 would do more harm than good.
- HB 1267
- Why we’re watching: This bill was introduced directly at the Governor’s request in response to the tragic death of Manuel “Manny” Elliis. The legislation calls for an independent investigation for officer-involved shooting deaths of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color and requires investigators to be trained on how to apply a racial lens. If passed, this bill could save other Black Washingtonians from the same fate as Manny.
- HB 1054
- Why we’re watching: This bill calls for civilian oversight of law enforcement and provides a path to decertify officers with a history of misconduct. Increased accountability for law enforcement builds trust with the communities they serve, and bad apples should be weeded out, not protected by the blue wall of silence.
- HB 1001
- Why we’re watching: This bill calls for law enforcement agencies to reflect the demographics of the communities they serve. Increased diversity is a must as we move toward police reform.
Did we miss any bills you’ve been following? DM us on any of our social channels or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know! The legislation you flagged may just be in next week’s roundup.