2013 End of Session Wrap Up: Public Safety & Corrections Legislation

This post summarizes the status of various public safety and corrections bills that MACo either considered or took a position on.

Speed Cameras:  As introduced, HB 929 proposed several changes to local speed camera program, including requiring better and more uniform signage in school zones where speed cameras are in use and clarifying that a local jurisdiction must provide warnings for at least 30 days after the first speed monitoring system is in use.  MACo supported the bill with amendments to also add a grievance process where a citizen with a question or systemic concern about a local jurisdiction’s speed camera program can have the question or concern addressed by an “ombudsman.”

As introduced, SB 207 contained three main provisions relating to local speed camera programs.  First, the bill required that a speed camera’s recorded images provide sufficient information to allow for the calculation of the speed of the motor vehicle during the interval between the two time-stamped images and that markings must be painted on the road where speed cameras are used.  Second, the bill would restrict the placement of cameras within 500 feet from the property of the school for which the school zone was established.  Finally, the bill provides that a vendor who administers and processes civil citations on behalf of a local jurisdiction may not have its fee be contingent on the number of citations issued or paid.  MACo opposed the bill, arguing that proposed changes were detrimental to local programs and in some instances would not actually accomplish the desired outcome.

FINAL STATUS:  The House created a workgroup that met throughout the Session and further amended HB 929 to require each local speed camera program to have an ombudsman who could answer citizen questions and void erroneously issued citations,  refine the definition of a school zone, require all local jurisdictions with speed camera programs to appoint a program administrator and participate in regular training courses on administering a speed camera program, require that a local contract contain certain provisions to protect against vendor misconduct and poor performance, and prohibit a local jurisdiction from paying a vendor based on a per-ticket basis.  MACo supported the bill as amended, as did MML and AAA.

SB 207 passed out of the Senate with amendments removing the road marking and school zone distance requirement and modifying the time-stamped image language and the vendor payment language.  The House passed HB 929 as amended and passed SB 207 with amendments making it identical to HB 929.  The House and Senate formed a conference committee that reached an agreement on SB 207 but both HB 929 and SB 207 failed on the Senate floor due to being delayed and filibustered on Sine Die.    

MACo HB 929 Testimony

MACo SB 207 Testimony

Correctional Training Commission Membership:  As introduced, HB 183 / SB 441 would have altered the membership on the Maryland Correctional Training Commission by requiring that 4 members who are currently chosen from State and local correctional officers and officials instead be chosen from State correctional officers recommended by their exclusive bargaining unit.  MACo opposed the bill, noting that it would remove local representation from the Commission, which is responsible for setting correctional officer training and education requirements for both State and local correctional officers.

FINAL STATUS:  The General Assembly passed HB 183 and SB 441 with identical amendments that would retain the 4 existing State and local members and instead add two new members – a State correctional officer recommended by their exclusive bargaining unit and a representative of the Department of Juvenile Services.  Based on the amendments, MACo dropped its opposition.  

MACo HB 183 Testimony

Police EscortsHB 889 / SB 621 would grant drivers of State and local emergency vehicles certain traffic privileges (such as passing stop signs and red traffic signals, exceeding the speed limit, and traveling through other local jurisdictions in the state) while performing motorcade or escort duties for homeland security, funerals, dignitaries, or facilitating traffic and pedestrian flow around the escort from the motorcade or escort.  The jurisdiction that employs a driver in a motorcade or escort must also provide notice of the motorcade or escort to any jurisdiction that the driver will enter while performing or returning.  MACo supported the bill, noting that it clarifies a law enforcement officer’s traffic powers when performing motorcade and escort duties and would facilitate the ability of local law enforcement officers to participate in escort duty that crosses local jurisdictional boundaries.

FINAL STATUS:  The General Assembly passed HB 889 and SB 621 without amendments.

MACo HB 889 Testimony

Inmate Telephone Welfare FundSB 778 would have required the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and local correctional facilities with inmate welfare funds to dedicate a portion of commissions earned on inmate telephone calls for funding telephone calls between an inmate and the inmate’s minor child.  MACo opposed the bill, arguing that the bill’s “one-size-fits-all” approach would present operational and administrative difficulties for local correctional facilities with inmate welfare funds.

Note:  HB 1138 is listed as a cross-file of SB 778.  However, the provisions of HB 1138 were different and not affect counties, so MACo did not take a position on the bill.  HB 1138 received an unfavorable report in the House Judiciary Committee.

FINAL STATUS:  SB 778 was withdrawn by the bill’s sponsor.

MACo SB 778 Testimony