Please find below some of the issues and policies that have been of great concern to me during this last legislative week:
Public Community Meeting
I believe Baltimore has huge potential. I grew up here, and I am proud to call Baltimore my home. However, the murder of Kimberly Leto and robbery of a 12 year old girl on the way to school has left me angry and unwilling to accept the diminished expectations that so many seem to accept. The stories of the last 10 days are tragic, so I ask you join me at a Community Meeting with Police Commissioner Batts this Wednesday.
Baltimore Police have arrested Alonzo Gorham-Ramos, 14, and Allen Pinkney, 16 in the murder of Kimberly Leto, a 51 year old Highlandtown resident who was found dead in her home last Friday morning. The two teenagers broke into Leto’s home and attempted to rob her but when things turned out differently they lost control and stabbed her multiple times to death.
This was not the first time Leto had encountered one of the suspects. Gorham-Ramos was first arrested in August for burglarizing Leto’s home. During this incident the police said she woke up to find him escaping with some of her electronics. With this chilling discovery from police records and some evidence from the crime scene, they came to the conclusion that he returned there with Pinkney.
Both Gorham-Ramos and Pinkney have been charged as adults on counts that include first-degree murder, possession of a dangerous weapon with intent to injure, and burglary. Justice has definitely been served but this gruesome murder of Kimberly Leto has sent shockwaves throughout the Highlandtown neighborhood.
On the way to school one morning last week, a young girl was held up at gun point for her cell phone. She was able to escape from her attacker, but the simple fact that children cannot walk safely to school without fear of being accosted has rightfully angered many in our community. We need to expect more from our city.
I have heard from many concerned and angry constituents in Highlandtown, Canton, and PPNA across the district in the wake of the murder of Kimberly Leto in her home on Ellwood Av. It is indeed a tragedy and my condolences go out to the Leto family. I have invited the Police Commissioner to a public meeting in South East Baltimore on Wednesday to help address concerns in the aftermath of Kimberly Leto’s death. Also he will introduce the acting Deputy Major for the Southeast District along with the rest of his team.
The public meeting will be held next Wednesday, February 12 at 7pm at Breath of God Lutheran Church. The church is located at 141 S. Clinton Street, and the meeting will be held in the sanctuary. I have just arranged this meeting this evening-and there will be more details as we get closer to the date.
Please RSVP to Beth@Wondersitter.com if you'd like to take advantage of childcare.
If you’d like further information about this meeting, please contact my office at 410-841-3303. Also- thanks to Mark Parker and to the people of Breath of God Lutheran for opening their church to us.
If you would like to walk with other people to the community meeting with Commissioner Batts on Wednesday night, there will be people leaving from three designated locations at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday night.
If you're walking from the north of Patterson Park, please meet at the corner of Linwood and Baltimore Streets in front of Bistro Rx.
If you're walking from further east of the church in Highlandtown, please meet at the corner of Conkling and Gough Streets in front of the Laughing Pint.
If you're walking from Canton and points south, please meet at the corner of Linwood and Eastern beside Hampstead Hill School.
Thanks to the Highlandtown, PPNA, and Hampstead Hill neighborhoods for their help!
The Minimum Wage Act
I have co-sponsored the legislation that would increase the minimum wage here in Maryland. The legislation will be sent to the Economic Matters Committee for its consideration.
Last time Marylanders saw a minimum wage increase was in 2009, when the federal government raised the minimum wage. With the current minimum set at $7.25, families and individuals all over the state are finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet. This issue has been on my mind for some time, and I believe it is time for Maryland to act to support the people that work day in and day out to make Maryland an amazing place to live.
The Minimum Wage Act would raise the current minimum wage to $10.10. The Act will also index the minimum wage to the cost of living, ensuring the wage keeps pace and does not lose its value over time. The indexing of the minimum wage is vital so the wage keeps pace with the rising cost of living that each Marylander faces.
The nearly 455,000 Marylanders that would benefit from the raising of the minimum wage could help infuse hundreds of millions of dollars back into the state’s economy. The more money people earn, the more disposable income they then have to spend in local businesses and various service providers around the state of Maryland.
I support this bill and I believe the time has come for Maryland to support her many workers and join other states that have already set their minimum wage above the federal rate.
I will continue to watch and study this legislation as it makes its way through the committee process and urge its support.
Automated Purchasing Machines
This week I presented HB 338 to the Economic Matters Committee. HB 338 would regulate machines like "Eco-ATM" a machine that pays cash for used, and sometimes stolen, cell phones and other electronics.
The Problem: Maryland needs enhanced regulation of Reverse Vending Machines, also called Automated Purchasing Machines, or “APMs” because too many Marylanders are falling prey to those citizens who would steal the property of others in hopes of disposing of the property quickly and through one of these machines for cash. These machines create an environment where the disposition of stolen property, especially electronics, becomes much easier and more difficult to trace without increased regulation that this bill offers.
The Solution: The intent of this bill is to enhance the regulations that bind the owners and users of these machines so that Marylanders are protected from those who would abuse the machines for nefarious purposes and their own personal gain.
- Licensure will require an application to the Secretary including all vital information of the applicant.
- All employees will also have to undergo criminal background checks.
- The Operator can only do business as an APM at the address for which the license is issued, and it is not transferable.
- A license cannot be obtained fraudulently or by deceit.
- Protecting consumers and law abiding citizens.
- For a transaction to be completed the seller must provide identification with full name, date of birth, complete home address, and contact information.
- The new law would require the people operating the machines to be located in Maryland.
- The new law would also not allow the machines to buy property from minors.
- Operators would be mandated to report to the law enforcement the property they believe stolen.
- All property sold to the machine would be required by law to remain in the state for 30 days.
- The machine will make a record of the transaction including all the information of the seller, including photo, and photocopy of identification submitted by the seller at time of the sale.
- Electronic equipment will not be accepted if the serial number has been destroyed, and the machine will also keep a record of these electronic submissions.
- Records of all transactions will be kept for at least 1 year.
- Cracking down on businesses that don’t play by the rules.
- Violators of this new law are guilty or misdemeanor and a conviction on the first offense brings a fine of not more than $500, while the second any subsequent offense carries a penalty of imprisonment of not more than 6 months and a fine not to exceed $1,000.
- Operators are prohibited from knowingly employing persons convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or any misrepresentation important to licensure, for which the Secretary can impose a fine of $5,000. The Operators are not allowed to have similar convictions of their own.