Maryland Enacts Historic Police Reforms, Overriding Governor’s Vetoes

Crime scene police tape

Despite GOP Gov. Larry Hogan’s attempts to block the measures, Maryland has become the first U.S. state to repeal its Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.

Maryland on Saturday became the first state in the nation to repeal its powerful Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights after the state’s Democratic-majority legislature overrode Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes of three historic police accountability bills. 

Hogan announced Friday that he was vetoing the three bills — part of a package of five police reform measures passed by state lawmakers earlier in the week. The governor said he would allow two of the bills to become law without his signature but said the others would “further erode police morale, community relationships and public confidence.”

But Democrats, who hold veto-proof majorities in both the state House and Senate, vowed to override Hogan’s vetoes — a promise they promptly fulfilled, with lawmakers gathering Friday night and Saturday to make it happen.

One of Hogan’s vetoes had been for a bill repealing and replacing the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR), which governs the disciplinary process for police officers. Critics have labeled LEOBR an “impediment” to police accountability. A new procedure to discipline officers found guilty of wrongdoing — one that will involve the input of the police departments and civilians — will now replace the bill of rights. Currently, at least 20 states have versions of a police officers’ bill of rights.

The bills enacted Saturday include several other police accountability measures, such as a statewide use-of-force policy, an expansion of public access to some police disciplinary records, harsher penalties for cases involving excessive use of force, new limits on no-knock warrants and a statewide body-camera mandate.

Additionally, the two pieces of legislation Hogan chose not to veto include one that gives Baltimore voters the opportunity to decide whether the city should take full control of the Baltimore Police Department, which has been a state agency since 1860.

The other bill allowed by Hogan prohibits police departments from acquiring surplus military equipment and creates an independent unit in the state attorney general’s office to investigate deaths involving police.

Democratic lawmakers in Maryland ― a state that’s faced scrutiny in recent years for its police accountability issues ― hailed the set of police reforms as “transformative” and a step toward “equality.”  

Bill Ferguson, president of the state Senate, called it “one of the most significant and transformative packages of reform of law enforcement in the country, and certainly, what matters more, in the history of Maryland,” The Washington Post reported

On Friday, Del. Vanessa Atterbeary (D-Howard) pushed back against the assertion made by some Republican lawmakers that the bills are “anti-cop.”

“This is not anti-police legislation. This is equality and fairness legislation,” Atterbeary said, adding: “This was painstakingly put together for Black and brown folks in our state. It’s time for police officers who don’t follow the proper law to pay the consequences.” 

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Sen. Joe Manchin Says He Will Not Vote To Eliminate Filibuster

Joe Manchin

The West Virginia moderate Democrat said in an opinion article that there was “no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken” the legislative procedure.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Wednesday there was “no circumstance” in which he would vote to eliminate the filibuster, likely ending hopes for some of President Joe Biden’s more ambitious legislative initiatives.

“The filibuster is a critical tool to protecting that input and our democratic form of government,” Manchin wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post. “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.”

Democrats hold a slim margin in the Senate, with 50 lawmakers and Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. The filibuster requires 60 votes to pass most legislation in the Senate, meaning the votes of all Democrats and 10 Republicans are needed to pass any major policy. 

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has also said she opposes eliminating the filibuster.

Biden has expressed support for reforming the filibuster, calling it a relic of the Jim Crow era, although he has largely pushed for it to become more difficult to use. The president said he would support a rule shift that would mandate lawmakers physically stand on the Senate floor and talk.

While Manchin’s stance will imperil many potential Democratic priorities, including gun control legislation, the party was handed a victory this week after the Senate parliamentarian said lawmakers could use a process called budget reconciliation multiple times a year to advance major spending and tax bills with a simple majority.

Biden’s latest major policy, a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, could pass without any Republican support using such a maneuver. The president has expressed a willingness to negotiate on the scope of the package, saying he is “open” to GOP ideas.

“Compromise is inevitable,” Biden said Wednesday. “We’ll be open to good ideas in good-faith negotiations. But here’s what we won’t be open to: We will not be open to doing nothing. Inaction, simply, is not an option.”

Manchin did throw water on the idea of Democrats using budget reconciliation as a carte blanche mechanism to pass legislation. It’s unclear if his stance would imperil the infrastructure package.

“Unfortunately, our leaders in the Senate fail to realize what goes around comes around,” he wrote. “We should all be alarmed at how the budget reconciliation process is being used by both parties to stifle debate around the major issues facing our country today.” 

He added: “I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate.”

Manchin said he was open to discussions about filibuster reform mere weeks ago, telling “Meet the Press” he would be willing to consider procedural “carve-outs” that could allow some measures to be passed with a simple majority. But those overtures are over, the senator said. 

“Every time the Senate voted to weaken the filibuster in the past decade, the political dysfunction and gridlock have grown more severe,” Manchin wrote Wednesday. “The political games playing out in the halls of Congress only fuel the hateful rhetoric and violence we see across our country right now.”

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John Boehner Says Trump ‘Incited That Bloody Insurrection’ At The U.S. Capitol

“I’ll admit I wasn’t prepared for what came after the election,” the former House speaker writes in his new memoir.

Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner blasts Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in his forthcoming memoir, saying the former president is directly responsible for the incident, which left five people dead and more than 140 Capitol Police officers injured.

In an excerpt obtained by The New York Times, Boehner says that Trump “incited that bloody insurrection for nothing more than selfish reasons, perpetuated by the bullshit he’d been shoveling since he lost a fair election the previous November.”

The Ohio Republican, who left the House in 2015 after increased fights with the Tea Party wing of the GOP, also suggests that Trump was an actual terrorist.  

“The legislative terrorism that I’d witnessed as speaker had now encouraged actual terrorism,” Boehner writes in the book, which is entitled “On the House: A Washington Memoir” and is due out later this month.

“I’ll admit I wasn’t prepared for what came after the election — Trump refusing to accept the results and stoking the flames of conspiracy that turned into violence in the seat of our democracy, the building over which I once presided,” he adds. 

Elsewhere in the colorful book, Boehner rips Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as “a reckless asshole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else” and Fox News host Sean Hannity as a “nut.”

Boehner mostly laid low in Washington after leaving office, taking up a job as a lobbyist for a cannabis group. He was quiet during the last months of Trump’s presidency, speaking out only after the Capitol insurrection — and without criticizing Trump by name. 

But that seems to be the rule in D.C. for politicians-turned-authors: Save the juiciest bits for your book.

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