NewsIn Focus


Looking Ahead: 2022 Legislative Session Priorities

Recreational marijuana, juvenile justice reform, environmental protections among some of the top priorities for lawmakers
Maryland Legislature
Posted at 1:28 PM, Dec 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 16:40:57-05

BALTIMORE — Senator Chris West, a Republican representing a district in Baltimore County, is setting his sights on environmental policy in the upcoming session.

"I've got [a] bill that deals with what happens when a company is found guilty of polluting the environment," he tells WMAR-2 News. "Right now there is a fine, that's assessed, but the money just goes to the state of Maryland to the general fund."

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His bill would direct that money specifically toward environmental work.

"[It] would create a long list of projects that are needed, and the estimated cost of the projects and the name of a contractor who could do the project," says West.

If a company is found guilty of polluting, his bill would make the company spend the assessed fee money on one of the projects.

"The company that engaged in the polluted pollution would hire the contractor and pay the contractor to do the work which is going to actually improve the state's environment."

Environmental protection isn't the only type of legislation he plans to propose.

"I've got a number of bills to try to fix the state's orphan court," he added.

Meanwhile, across the aisle, Democratic Senator Jill Carter, who represents a district in Baltimore City, says she's focused on reforming how the state deals with kids charged with crimes.

"I've been pushing to end what's called direct file," she says. "Which is the automatic charging of children as adults in Maryland."

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This is a bill that is coming out of the Juvenile Justice Reform Council's recommendations, after two years of meeting to understand the issue.

Right now, there are 33 offenses in which Maryland children are automatically charged as adults.

"Which means, that they don't start in the juvenile system, we do it in court, they start as adults and then have to make the argument to the court, 'Hey, I'm really a child, please put me in juvenile court,'" explains Carter.

"We just want to have the presumption of innocence," she adds. "And we also want to have the presumption that a child is a child."

She, like Senator West, also has several bills she plans to push.

"I think I've got close to 30 bills, so I think they're all good," she tells WMAR-2 News.

We'll be closely following the 2022 Regular Session of the Maryland General Assembly, on air and online.