Prince George’s County, Maryland, Executive Angela Alsobrooks told members of the county’s state House delegation to Annapolis that she expects police reform will be “a red-hot issue that will have all of our attention during this next legislative session.”
Members of Maryland’s House of Delegates from Prince George’s County held a virtual meeting on legislative priorities for the upcoming session in Annapolis, which is slated to start Jan. 13.
Alsobrooks told lawmakers that “people of every stripe have taken to the streets to demand reforms to police departments” with “social justice and equality for all.”
She formed the county’s Police Reform Work Group, co-chaired by Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Maureen Lamasney and state Del. Alonzo Washington, a Democrat who represents Prince George’s County.
County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy also told lawmakers that one of her legislative priorities would be passing a bill that would mandate body-worn cameras for police by 2025. Braveboy told members of the county delegation that would have an economic impact, something that’s also referred to as a “fiscal note” in legislative lingo.
She said, “We will likely have to create a digital evidence unit that can review this footage, that can redact video as necessary and also we need resources for retention,” meaning storage for data.
When they return for the legislative session, lawmakers are expected to try to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the education reform bill, often referred to as the Kirwan plan.
Alsobrooks advised legislators that if the override should succeed, some attention would have to be paid to the funding formula included in the original legislation.
She added, “We are looking in our next budget season at a write-down of about $100 million in terms of revenue losses.”
Alsobrooks said she wanted lawmakers to be aware of that since, under the Kirwan bill, Prince George’s County would be among the first jurisdictions to have to pay into the reform plan.
Piggybacking on Alsobrooks’ comments, Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Monica Goldson said with a drop in enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school system is taking an economic hit.
Goldson said enrollment has dropped by roughly 3,000 students. “This could equate to approximately a $60 million loss to the school system,” she said, referring to funding that’s tied to per-pupil expenditures.
Another issue that Alsobrooks wants lawmakers to tackle: food deserts, a term that refers to areas that aren’t served by grocery stores.
She said part of the solution would be “to allow grocery stores located in food deserts to sell beer and wine. This we have learned is a tool” to attract top grocery chains to underserved areas.
Maryland’s General Assembly session will look different this year: Senate leaders already unveiled plans that include requiring everyone to wear masks at all times, and health screenings every day for people entering the State House complex.