The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LBCM) will focus on the state’s HBCUs, justice for African Americans, sentencing and economic reforms, among other things.

After months of listening sessions, town hall meetings and a day-long hearing in Annapolis to hear citizen concerns, the LBCM is ready to provide leadership on issues that impact the lives of Maryland’s more than 1.7 million African-Americans, said Del. Cheryl Glenn (Baltimore-45), chair of the Caucus.

Del. Cheryl Glenn, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, laid out the Caucus’ agenda for 2018. (Courtesy photo)

“The 50 members of the LBCM stand united in our continued fight and advocacy for justice for the African American population of the great state of Maryland.”  Glenn said. She added the LBCM is dedicated to bringing the central issues involved in the Maryland HBCU Equity trial to the attention of the entire General Assembly.

“We are committed to bringing consensus within the Maryland General Assembly and the Democratic Party to support the decision of Judge Blake,” Glenn said.  In 2013, the U.S. District Court of Maryland ruled that the State continues to engage in discriminatory practices against its four HBCUs.   In November, the Court issued a ruling outlining a remedy to bring equity in academic programs to the state’s four HBCUs. That ruling was challenged by Attorney General Brian Frosh earlier this month. Currently a special master is being selected who will oversee.

In sentencing reform, The LBCM pledged to support the Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act after State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby graphically described the frequency with which sexual predators sidestep current Maryland law.

But with only a third of Caucus members attending last week’s hearing on priorities, it remains to be seen how the LBCM will connect with all 50 of its members to gain consensus on critical criminal justice issues in 2018. Last year, the LBCM was sharply divided between Senator C. Anthony Muse (Prince Georges County– 26) and other Caucus members who supported a bill favoring the Bail Bond industry.  The majority of the LBCM prevailed, opting to wait for implementation of a landmark rule by Maryland’s Court of Appeals instructing judges and commissioners to avoid setting bail that defendants can’t afford.

“As promised from the last session, we will dissect the result of the implementation of the rule to determine whether Legislation is needed to take financial interests out of pre-trial release,” Glenn said.  Still the public fissure between Caucus members on the high-profile issue of bail reform was not unnoticed by advocates. “Not all of us live in communities that have Black representation.  We need the Caucus to speak for us on important issues with one voice,” said a citizen who attended the recent LBCM hearing and wished to remain anonymous.

The LBCM will add Economic Justice to their agenda. The law makers support continuation of Baltimore’s State Center redevelopment, a long stalled project,. Finally, the LBCM will support the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA).

Glenn said the LBCM will present the agenda to the General Assembly Jan. 10, the first day of the 2018 session, followed up by a breakfast with Governor Larry Hogan the next day.