Mayor vetoes body camera and plastic bag ban bills
No surprises after several weeks of political theater at the Council
Above: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake did exactly what she promised today.
As expected, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has vetoed bills to ban plastic bags and require body cameras on police officers.
The mayor’s written objections to the bills, issued today, are expected to be submitted to the City Council at its final meeting of the year on Thursday.
Even though both bills overwhelmingly passed the Council, neither is expected to win the 12 votes (three-fourths of the members) needed to override a veto.
No Public Hearing on Plastic Ban
Rawlings-Blake criticized bill 14-0372, the plastic bag ban, for drastically changing its legislative mission without any public hearing.
The bill originally called for a 5-cent surcharge for plastic bags used by consumers at grocery stores. The bill was altered by its sponsor, Councilman James B. Kraft, into an outright ban on most plastic bags minutes before the bill was taken up by the full Council.
“There are times when a bill must move swiftly through the legislative process because of some approaching deadline. However, this instance did not warrant the way in which the process unfolded,” the mayor wrote.
“I believe that the public should have had the opportunity to be heard on such a drastic change to legislation.”
No Power Over Police
In the matter of body cameras on police (bill 14-0443), Rawlings-Blake said she fully supports the concept of cameras, but does not think the Council has the power to legislate over the operations of the police department. (More on her objections.)
She recently announced the formation of a task force to study how best to implement a body camera program that addresses privacy and storage issues.
She said she will submit her plan in early 2015. “There will be body cameras in Baltimore,” she vowed again today, joining a movement that has become popular in the wake of the Ferguson, Mo., police shooting of teenager Michael Brown.