The Week in Politics: Guns, Speed Cameras and Employment
A quick synopsis of the top stories in local and state politics from the past week.
This week saw the kick off of the General Assembly's 2013 session, as well as hearings on bills requiring city contractors to hire Baltimore residents and a protest on the two year anniversary of the death of officer William H. Torbit Jr.
Some communities are rallying behind a proposal to eliminate dozens of liquor establishments as part of the city’s first comprehensive rezoning process in 40 years, according to the Baltimore Sun. The city announced its intentions in June, and the proposal would close four liquor stores in North Baltimore, which store owners and some residents say aren’t problems in their communities.
The Baltimore Sun also reported the city is replacing all 83 of its automated speed cameras after problems with tickets issued were brought to light by the newspaper. In April, Patch reported on the locations of six cameras that were placed in North Baltimore. Speed camera revenue played an important part in a budget dispute between Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Council Bernard C. "Jack" Young last year.
Gov. Martin O’Malley predicted the General Assembly, which started it’s 2013 session on Wednesday, will pass an assault weapons ban, according to the Huffington Post. In December, leaders from Montgomery County and Baltimore City, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts gathered at the Episcopal Ecumenical Center to announse their support for more stringent gun laws in Maryland in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Family members of officer William H. Torbit Jr. protested in front of City Hall calling for an independent investigation into his death. Two years ago, Torbit was shot by his fellow officers outside a downtown nightclub in a friendly fire incident, according to the Baltimore Brew.
City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young’s local employment ordinance, which would require some companies receiving city contracts to hire city residents, had a hearing before the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday. Lester Davis, a spokesman for the council president, said the bill is expected to go through several work sessions before a version of the bill is brought to a vote.
On Thursday, the Baltimore City Council’s Education and Youth Committee gave a hearing to an ordinance, sponsored by Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, that would require periodic reports on the number of red light and speed camera violations by school vehicles.