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Politicsby Fern Shen and Mark Reutter8:15 amMay 17, 20210

A watershed moment today for Scott on security deposit bill

There is a 5 p.m. deadline for the mayor to veto the increasingly controversial bill – or to allow it, by default, to become law

Above: Mayor Brandon Scott and Council President Nick Mosby enter City Hall in a 2021 photo tweeted by Mosby’s office. (@BaltCouncil)

Today is a pivotal day for Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott as the 5 p.m. deadline approaches for him to decide whether he is vetoing the controversial Security Deposit Alternatives bill that City Council President Nick Mosby has made a top legislative priority.

Political observers are watching to see what Scott will do on an issue that shines a light on the muted but ever-present power struggle between the city’s two top elected officials.

Mosby, who abandoned a mayoral bid in 2016, has made no secret of his ambitions for higher office.

Internal emails show Rhino’s role in Security Deposit legislation (5/16/21)

Meanwhile the sizeable coalition of city activists and advocates who have pressed Scott to veto a bill they say will hurt renters – many of whom supported Scott in last year’s primary election – are watching as well.

The moment has parallels to Mayor Catherine Pugh’s flip-flop on the $15 minimum wage issue shortly after her 2016 election. After making a campaign promise that she would sign any $15 minimum wage bill that reached her desk, Pugh vetoed the measure.

Winds Shifting?

Until the last few days, it seemed certain that Mosby and Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton could muster a majority of the Council to override a Scott veto of the deposit alternatives bill.

After all, the Council had passed the bill by a lopsided 12-2 margin last month, with only Councilmen Zeke Cohen and Ryan Dorsey voting “no.” (Councilman Kris Burnett abstained.)

Mayors do not typically attempt a veto unless they know the Council will sustain it. Under a recent charter amendment, 10 votes are needed to overturn a mayoral veto.

Opponents of the bill, led by the Baltimore Renters United coalition, have been calling out individual Council members by name, pressuring them not to vote against a veto.

Until this weekend, it was unclear that the votes needed to sustain a veto were there.

But in the wake of yesterday’s Brew article about the behind-the-scenes interactions between Mosby’s and Middleton’s offices and Rhino, the New York-based company that has been pushing the bill, City Hall sources say the votes may now be there.

“It’s close, but the votes are there [to sustain a veto],” a Council member told The Brew yesterday. “So the ball now is squarely in Brandon’s court.”

pugh minimum wage announcement

Mayor Catherine Pugh announces in 2017 that she will veto a $15 minimum wage bill, shocking many supporters. (Fern Shen)


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