Council delays curfew and loitering votes
The Montgomery County Council voted to table the youth curfew and anti-loitering proposals on Dec. 6, postponing action on both bills indefinitely, according to Councilmember Phil Andrews (D-Dist. 3).
According to Councilmember George Leventhal (D-at large), the curfew bill was tabled with a vote of 6-3, and the anti-loitering bill was tabled with a vote of 5-4.
Expedited Bill 25-11, the curfew bill, was introduced on July 26 by County Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) on behalf of County Executive Isiah Leggett (D). If passed, 25-11 will enact a curfew for those under the age of 18 of 11 p.m. on weekdays and 12 a.m. on weekends. The suggested curfew would last until 5 a.m.
Andrews and Leventhal proposed Expedited Bill 35-11, the anti-loitering bill, on Oct. 25 as an alternative to Ervin's youth curfew. 35-11 would allow police officers to question loiterers and individuals who appear to be engaging in unlawful behavior.
Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-at large) introduced the motion to table both bills after reevaluating the supporting data. "We increased the police presence in the Silver Spring business district significantly, and it had a very positive effect on crime. In fact, it fell to below one-third of what it formerly was...and the remaining justification for the curfew is pretty weak...The rationale for tabling the curfew bill also applied to the loitering bill," he said.
According to Leventhal, 25-11 and 35-11 will expire after two years if not voted upon. To move either bill for further consideration before the two years end, however, the Council must have a majority vote to do so.
Despite the possibility of future votes on the curfew and anti-loitering bills, Andrews expressed the belief that the Council's tabling of the two bills indicates opposition. "I interpret a vote to table as a vote against the two bills," he said.
Riemer theorized that the Council's majority opinion regarding the bills has fluctuated, but that it postponed action to avoid passage. "This is politics. Just because it might have passed last week doesn't mean it will in the future. That's why we had to table it; people want the security of tabling," he said.
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