The Maryland County Officials Diversity Caucus heard from United States Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh at the 2016 MACo Summer Conference on August 18.
In his opening statements, Howard County Council Member Calvin Ball stressed how much the caucus has grown over the last several years. Former Maryland Delegate Melony Griffith then provided an update on a pledge card effort for supporting local health centers or initiatives. Griffith noted that almost everyone filled out a pledge card last session and several signees described their successful efforts. Prince George’s County Council Member Mel Franklin highlighted the legislative initiatives of the caucus: (1) economic development; (2) job creation; (3) minority business participation; (4) criminal justice reform; and (5) environmental justice and social justice issues.
Van Hollen urged the caucus to continue in its direction and work, stating, “I believe firmly that we have to break down the barriers between local governments, state governments, and the federal government.” He argued that constituents typically do not make or care about such distinctions. Van Hollen also recognized the “strength that diversity brings” to the state, noting the creation of the Harriet Tubman state park in Dorchester County.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh also addressed the caucus. Frosh stressed that cooperation was essential in producing positive outcomes and highlighted a successful multi-law enforcement agency effort to shut down human trafficking ring that was operating in Prince George’s County and elsewhere. He The enforcement action included multiple law enforcement agencies. Frosh also provided an overview of actions his office has recently taken against debt collection agencies, payday lenders, buyers of structured settlements, and illegal moving company practices. Noting the recent United States Department of Justice findings against the Baltimore City Police Department, he urged all law enforcement agencies in the state to adopt his office’s guidelines on officer conduct.