Efforts To Repeal A Century-Old Law In Frederick To Continue Next Year

The legislation to repeal the law was sponsored by Delegate Karen Simpson.

Delegate Karen Simpson  (Photo from Md. General Assembly)

Annapolis, Md (KM) Frederick County Delegate Karen Simpson says she will bring back her bill next year which would repeal a more than 100-year-old law in Frederick city. The ordinance in question, which has been in affect since 1917, allows a District Court judge to assign vagrants to area roads. “Apparently, it’s not used. Hopefully, no one comes along in the future that decides ‘Hey, let’s put this back in affect,'” she says. “I think it makes a statement that it’s no longer our values.”

Simpson calls it a “Jim Crow Law” enacted during a time of legal racial segregation. She says this law would allow police to pick up anyone they deem a vagrant, even if that person is not committing a crime. “This was during a segregated time. It was legal to be able to pick up anyone who  was standing, leaning, sitting, whatever,” says Simpson.

“I think it’s kind of an embarrassment to be still on the record, especially given how broad it is,” she continues.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on this bill on Tuesday, February 28th, but took no vote was taken.  . “I think some folks were confused that like ”who’s going to clean your roads, now,”’ Simpson says. “We have folks who do that. We’re good.”

The 2023 Maryland General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the year on Monday, April 10th at midnight.

Frederick County Delegates Kris Fair and Ken Kerr were co-sponsors of this bill.

By Kevin McManus