Baltimore Sun Editorial Challenges Needs for Body Camera Privacy Legislation

A Baltimore Sun article (2017-10-09) reported that two Baltimore County Council Members, Todd Crandell and Wade Kach, have introduced a resolution urging the Maryland General Assembly to consider a statewide policy to clarify when the public should have police body camera video footage under the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA). The resolution calls for protecting individual privacy rights while maintaining law enforcement transparency. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the County recently announced the adoption of body cameras for 1,400 of its police officers. The resolution proposal follows that announcement.

The article noted that State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger planned to testify in support of the resolution while the ACLU of Maryland opposed the measure. From the article:

“This is simply about a layer of protection for innocent victims and bystanders for their privacy,” said Councilman Todd Crandell of Dundalk, who is sponsoring the measure with Councilman Wade Kach of Cockeysville. …

American Civil Liberties Union attorney David Rocah called the resolution “unnecessary and deeply misguided.” …

Crandell said the resolution was inspired not by any specific incident, but by a constituent concern about privacy. The concern, he said, is that police are often called to people’s homes, and “anybody who wants to request that footage can then see inside of your home.”

A Baltimore Sun editorial (2017-10-09) followed up on the article expressing the Sun’s opposition to the resolution and statewide legislation. While the Sun acknowledged the various concerns raised by stakeholders, the Sun argued that such legislation was “hypothetical” and unnecessary:

Proponents of new limits on the public release of police body camera video come at the issue from a variety of perspectives. Some are concerned that video showing victims of alleged domestic or sexual assault could become public, thus leading to stigmatization of those who are already vulnerable. Others worry that videos could show embarrassing or private details of one’s home — footage of dirty dishes in the sink, or a homeowner’s collection of firearms, as some legislators mused during hearings on the topic this year. And representatives of local governments in particular are worried that they will be slammed with overly broad requests for video that will prove expensive and time consuming. …

Useful Links

Conduit Street Article on Baltimore County Body Camera Adoption

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Body Cameras

Supreme Court Considers Hearing Legislative Prayer Issue

The United States Supreme Court is considering whether to hear a case regarding legislative prayer that would resolve a federal court of appeals circuit split. The case, Lund v. Rowan County addresses whether the Establishment Clause is violated when legislative prayers are offered exclusively by members of a local legislative body. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Supreme Court upheld the right of a legislative body to have sectarian payers at their public meetings in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway. Rowan County deals with whether an otherwise appropriate sectarian prayer can solely be offered by legislators.

While the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ultimately found on July 14, 2017, that the Establishment Clause was violated in Rowan County, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decided the opposite in a very similar case, Bormuth v. Jackson County, on September 6, 2017. Given the split, the Supreme Court may decide to hear the Rowan County case to provide clarity on the issue.

Useful Links

US Court of Appeals Opinion in Lund v. Rowan County

US Court of Appeals Opinion in Bormuth v. Jackson County

Conduit Street Article on Town of Greece v. Galloway Case

 

MDE Releases Draft Nutrient Credit Trading Regulations

A Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) news release (2017-10-11) announced the release of draft regulations that would establish a water quality nutrient credit trading program. The draft regulations culminate a series of attempts that began in 2012 to establish a viable nutrient credit trading program. MACo believes a strong trading program can assist local governments in meeting their water quality goals under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. From the MDE news release:

The Maryland Department of the Environment has proposed regulations to establish the Maryland Water Quality Trading Program and accelerate the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay while bringing economic benefits to Maryland. The regulations are proposed under Maryland environmental law to ensure enforcement and accountability under the federal Clean Water Act.

The proposed regulations are designed to provide greater flexibility and reduce costs in achieving Maryland’s goals under its blueprint to meet federal pollution limits for the Bay. The voluntary program would establish a marketplace for private sector participation in meeting Bay cleanup goals.

Nutrient and sediment credit trading offer attractive alternatives to more costly traditional approaches for improving water quality and have the potential to achieve results more quickly and at a lower cost, accelerating efforts to restore and improve water quality. The trading program that would be established by the proposed regulations expands opportunities for all sources by giving them access to a water quality marketplace and flexibility in meeting and maintaining their pollution limits by acquiring credits generated from load reductions in local watersheds in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“Maryland is a leader in reducing greenhouse gases and is now poised to make similar gains for clean water with nutrient credit trading,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “We can speed up the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and reduce the cost of restoration with innovative partnerships and regulatory safeguards.”

The proposed regulations were developed with significant input from the Maryland Water Quality Trading Advisory Committee. Earlier this year, the Maryland Departments of the Environment and Agriculture published a draft “Maryland Trading and Offset Policy and Guidance Manual” in consultation with the Advisory Committee.

In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), with pollution limits and load allocations for the pollutants nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. Maryland developed a Watershed Implementation Plan, or blueprint, that allocates pollution loads for the wastewater, stormwater, septic, agricultural and forest sectors.

The Maryland Water Quality Trading Program will allow agricultural sources that have reduced their pollution beyond the required “baseline” to produce credits that can be purchased by counties or municipalities to meet Bay cleanup requirements to reduce polluted stormwater runoff. The cost of reducing nitrogen could be as low as $200 per pound in the agriculture sector, compared to an estimated $3,800 per pound for urban retrofits to reduce stormwater runoff.

The proposed regulations include mechanisms for the Department of the Environment to certify credits for trading. The certification process relies heavily on EPA Chesapeake Bay Program modeling tools, expert panel reviews of Best Management Practices and other technical and policy support. The Department of the Environment’s review would include limits on the geography within which a trade can take place and evaluate expected improvements in water quality.

The Department of the Environment submitted the proposed regulations yesterday to the Administrative Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) Committee for a 15-day review. The Department expects to submit proposed regulations for publication in the Maryland Register in November. A public comment period would follow that publication.

Useful Links

MDE Draft Nutrient Credit Trading Regulations

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Nutrient Credit Trading

Delmarva Farmer Editorial: Goodbye to Waters of the US Rule Change

A Delmarva Farmer editorial (2017-10-06) recounted the history of the controversial change in the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) for purposes of implementing the federal Clean Water Act, noted its demise under United States President Donald Trump, and expressed optimism that farmers will have a voice in changing the rule going forward.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and United States Army  Corps of Engineers proposed and adopted a rule that would expand the WOTUS definition to include streams, wetlands, and intermittent water flows – making them subject to Clean Water Act permitting and mitigation requirements. MACo joined with the National Association of Counties (NACo) in expressing concern that the proposed definition included stormwater drain pipes and roadside drainage ditches. However, the new definition never took effect as the rule change spawned significant litigation and a federal court froze the rule’s implementation. Subsequently, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that reverted the WOTUS definition to the version that existed before the proposed changed.

From the editorial:

In response to Trump’s executive order in February, the EPA announced that it would formally repeal the WOTUS rule and the work was slated to begin on writing a new rule which would provide farmers with clarity and certainty, reduce red tape, and not discourage farming practices that improve water quality.

It now seems reasonably certain that WOTUS, in its original concept, will end up in the federal waste basket and that the nation’s farmers will have a say in what will replace it.

Useful Links

Conduit Street Article on Trump WOTUS Executive Order

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of Waters of the US

NACo WOTUS Resource Page

LGAC Charts Local Path For Bay TMDL Final Phase

The Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) met on October 5 and 6 to prepare recommendations regarding local government participation and concerns in meeting Chesapeake Bay Agreement goals, including the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) for the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The meeting took place in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

LGAC is part of the Chesapeake Bay Program and advises the Executive Council on local government engagement, challenges, and needs in meeting Bay water quality and habitat goals. Its membership includes county and municipal representatives from all six bay watershed states and the District of Columbia.

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state environmental agency representatives briefed LGAC on the Bay TMDL midpoint assessment, including how additional pollution loads from growth, the Conowingo Dam, and climate change would be incorporated into the pending local water goals that will be issued by EPA. One proposal regarding the Conowingo Dam load would add the load to the Susquehanna River basin and those basins where it would be most “cost effective” to treat the loads (primarily the upper eastern and western shore areas in Maryland).

Each Bay state also reported out on their local engagement efforts and current best practices and challenges. The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay discussed its local watershed education and capacity building project. In Maryland, the Alliance will be working directly with MACo on curriculum development for local elected officials. Another presentation addressed alternative financing for stormwater projects.

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp participated in the meeting on behalf of Maryland’s counties. For further information, please contact Les at 410.269.0043 or lknapp@mdcounties.org.

Useful Links

LGAC Webpage

Chesapeake Bay Program Website

 

NY Times Lists 48 Environmental Rules Being Overturned or Rolled Back

A New York Times article (2017-10-05) summarized 48 environmental rules that have been overturned or are in the process of being rolled back by the administration of President Donald Trump. Some of these rule changes directly affect county governments. Besides a more detailed description of each rule, the article provides a useful chart summarizing the changes:

24 Rules Have Been Overturned
  • Flood building standards
  • Ban on chlorpyrifos, a potentially harmful pesticide
  • Freeze on new coal leases on public lands
  • Methane reporting requirement
  • Anti-dumping rule for coal companies
  • Decision on Keystone XL pipeline
  • Decision on Dakota Access pipeline
  • Third-party settlement funds
  • Offshore drilling ban in the Atlantic and Arctic
  • Ban on seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic
  • Northern Bering Sea climate resilience plan
  • Royalty regulations for oil, gas and coal
  • Inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews
  • Permit-issuing process for new infrastructure projects
  • Green Climate Fund contributions
  • Mining restrictions in Bristol Bay, Alaska
  • Grizzly bear listing as endangered species
  • Hunting ban on wolves and grizzly bears in Alaska
  • Protection of whales and sea turtles
  • Reusable water bottles rule for national parks
  • National parks climate order
  • Calculation for “social cost” of carbon
  • Planning rule for public lands
  • Copper filter cake listing as hazardous waste
17 Rollbacks Are In Progress
  • Clean Power Plan
  • Paris climate agreement
  • Wetland and tributary protections
  • Car and truck fuel-efficiency standards
  • Status of 10 national monuments
  • Status of 12 marine areas
  • Limits on toxic discharge from power plants
  • Coal ash discharge regulations
  • Emissions standards for new, modified and reconstructed power plants
  • Emissions rules for power plant start-up and shutdown
  • Sage grouse habitat protections
  • Fracking regulations on public lands
  • Oil rig safety regulations
  • Regulations for offshore oil and gas exploration by floating vessels
  • Exploratory drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge
  • Hunting method regulations in Alaska
  • Emissions standards for trailers and glider kits
7 Rollbacks Are In Limbo
  • Methane emission limits at new oil and gas wells
  • Limits on landfill emissions
  • Mercury emission limits for power plants
  • Hazardous chemical facility regulations
  • Groundwater protections for uranium mines
  • Efficiency standards for federal buildings
  • Rule helping consumers buy fuel-efficient tires

The chart above reflects three types of policy changes: rules that have been officially reversed; announcements and changes still in progress, pending reviews and other rulemaking procedures; and regulations whose status is unclear because of delays or court actions.

The article also described five other rules that were reinstated after legal challenges. The article’s chart does not include new rules proposed by the Trump administration or court actions that have changed how rules are enforced.

Sustainable Maryland Offering Community Resiliency Workshops

Sustainable Maryland is offering a series of leadership training seminars on building community resiliency throughout Maryland in partnership with the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland. MACo and the Maryland Municipal League are co-sponsoring the events.

From a Sustainable Maryland announcement email:

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland will host Sustainable Maryland’s annual Leadership Training workshops in November. This training series fosters leadership skills to engage diverse stakeholders, reduce contention, and garner support for sustainability initiatives.

This year’s workshop topic, BUILDING COMMUNITY RESILIENCE, will incorporate examples, stories and tools that will help communities: define resilience; foster strategies to develop resilience actions; and improve participants’ ability to communicate the importance of resilience to residents.

The training is being held at three different locations and dates:

There is a $35 registration fee that includes breakfast, lunch, and program materials. Parking at each event is free.

AGENDA

Contact Mike Hunninghake at mikeh75@umd.edu or 301-405-7956 if you have any questions.

Useful Links

Sustainable Maryland Website

Environmental Finance Center Website

Princess Anne Revitalization Contingent on Partnerships & Individual Projects

A DelmarvaNow article (2017-10-02) discussed the revitalization of historic downtown Princess Anne in Somerset County and highlighted the both individual projects and partnerships that have made the ongoing revitalization efforts successful. The article noted that Princess Anne contains approximately 250 historically important buildings downtown, including a uniquely designed courthouse.

One critical aspect discussed by the article is the town’s partnership with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). UMES staffs the Hawks Corner, a community engagement office located in downtown Princess Anne that is staffed by UMES Coordinator for Outreach and Strategic Initiatives Walter Woods:

Inside is exhibit space displaying art created by students, meeting space that’s available to the community and a storefront where Hawks merchandise is sold. …

Woods, who is a member of the International Town Gown Association, wants to focus on creating what he calls “One Princess Anne.” His plans include offering Business During Hours events, a play on the Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours gatherings, and monthly brown bag lunch meetings in which UMES faculty members will present informal talks on down-to-earth topics, such as cancer research, beets or childhood obesity.

According to the article, another key aspect of Princess Anne’s revitalization is based on key individual projects, such as the ongoing renovation of the former Princess Anne Pharmacy building, which will house a Behavioral Health Services branch and Maple Shade Youth & Family Services on the first floor and four apartments on the second floor.

Dr. Niru Jani, chief administrator of Behavioral Health Services, with offices in Salisbury, Cambridge and other Shore locations, purchased the property at auction this summer. …

“The building is so beautiful, we want to bring it back to its original glory,” Jani said. “When the storefronts are completed inside, we want to restore the exterior, but we are hoping for help in the form of grants to help with the cost of the facade restoration.”

The article also described other new or renovated businesses on the main street of Somerset Avenue, including the Washington Inn & Tavern, a wine store, liquor dispensary, consignment shop, florist, antique shop, several salons, an ice cream shop, and “Independence Hall” – a mixed used building which allows “pop-up shops” on the first floor and has apartments above. The town secured a grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore to offer free live music and food trucks every Thursday in July and August. The article stated that the town attracted roughly 1,000 attendees people to the Thursday events.

Supreme Court Declines Maryland Marijuana Stop & Frisk Appeal

A Daily Record article (2017-10-02) reported that the United States Supreme Court declined to review a Maryland Court of Appeals holding that simply smelling unsmoked marijuana in a vehicle does not allow police officers to frisk a passenger for weapons. In Joseph Norman Jr. v. State of Maryland (March 27, 2017), the Court of Appeals found that in order to conduct a weapons frisk, a police officer must have “reasonable articulable suspicion” that a passenger may be armed and dangerous. This suspicion is based on the “totality of the circumstances” and must include more than smelling marijuana in a car. In declining to hear Maryland’s appeal, the Supreme Court essentially upheld the Court of Appeals holding and dismissed the argument of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. From the article:

“By withholding authority to frisk the occupants of a car that an officer already has probable cause to search, and by retreating from the widely recognized association of drugs and guns particularly in the circumstances of drug trafficking or transport on the nation’s roads, the decision below makes constitutionally unreasonable the educated instincts that keep traffic officers alive,” Frosh wrote in Maryland’s petition for review. “This should not be.” …

In a responsive filing, Maryland Public Defender Paul B. DeWolfe countered that the Maryland court’s decision did not merit the justices’ review as it correctly interpreted the Fourth Amendment.

“As an initial matter, the rule proposed by the state is breathtaking in its scope, and adoption of it would permit pat-downs of passengers in a staggering number of situations, including stops in which the police have probable cause to believe the car contains evidence of very minor crimes, such as shoplifting,” DeWolfe wrote in the brief to the justices… .

The article also noted that DeWolfe cited the legalization or de-criminalization of small amounts of marijuana by more than 20 states as further evidence that simply having small amounts of marijuana is not viewed as dangerous behavior.

Useful Links

Court of Appeals Case – Joseph Norman Jr. v. State of Maryland

 

State Development Plan Process Outlined For Sustainable Growth Commission

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission received an overview of the state’s anticipated process for developing a new State Development Plan to replace the recently repealed PlanMaryland at the Commission’s September 25, 2017, meeting in the Town of North Beach. As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan formally repealed PlanMaryland through an executive order in August and laid the framework for the adoption of a new Development Plan (which is required by state law).

Special Secretary for Smart Growth Wendi Peters and Maryland Department of Planning Planning Coordination Director Chuck Boyd stated that the Development Plan process would include considerable outreach to stakeholders – especially local governments. The initial plan will be a framework developed over the next 2 years that will be further altered as necessary. The Hogan Administration views the Development Plan as a dynamic document rather than a static one. Local governments would be consulted at the start of the process and the creation of the Development Plan would be a collaborative effort. Peters stressed that the Development Plan would not be a “top down approach” – a concern that had been raised against PlanMaryland by MACo and other stakeholders.

The Commission also heard updates on the Reinvest Maryland 2.0 report (which is being formatted into final draft form for approval in November) and local planning updates from Town of North Beach Mayor Mark Frazer, Town of Chesapeake Beach Mayor Pat Mahoney, and Calvert County Deputy County Administrator Wilson Parran.

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp and Garrett County Planning and Land Management Director Deborah Carpenter serve as the MACo representatives on the Commission. The Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for November 13 in Ellicott City.

Useful Links

Governor Hogan’s Executive Order 01.01.2017.18

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of PlanMaryland

Sustainable Growth Commission Webpage