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This page provides an overview of just some of the work Councilman Dorsey has done as a legislator and leading voice, covering changes he has helped enact, and changes still needing work. Some of this is the big, systemic change we know is necessary--big shifts, often long overdue, and for many requiring a change of mindset and acceptance of what’s truly necessary to set Baltimore on the right course. Other of these issues address things that may seem small, but are nonetheless impactful. Councilman Dorsey has demonstrated that it is possible to do both big and little things, simultaneously and successfully.


The City Council is, or should be, Baltimore’s leadership for policy to further the long-term welfare of the City and its residents, addressing long-standing and chronic challenges, while also addressing emerging needs in a changing world, and acute concerns arising from everyday experience. Councilman Dorsey has been successful in bringing about change both legislatively, and through advocacy that has led agencies to make operational and internal policy changes without the need for legislative action. He has also been a leading voice on important matters still in need of great change, issues that require still more outreach, vigilance, and movement-building to bring about.

Good Government and Democracy

What’s Ryan done so far?

  • LEAD SPONSOR: 18-0199 Inspector General’s Office - Charter Amendment - Resolution codified best practices to strengthen and make more independent the OIG. This brought Question F to the ballot in the 2018 general election, where it was supported by 79% of voters.

  • LEAD SPONSOR: 19-0457 Elected Officials - Financial Disclosure - Requires elected officials who own businesses to disclose the sources of income for those businesses. This closes a loophole that allows businesses to serve as a pass-through to hide business dealings that would constitute a conflict of interest for the elected official.

  • LEAD SPONSOR: 19-0377 Whistleblower Rights and Responsibilities - Protects City employees against retaliation for making disclosures of misconduct or other improper action within City government.​

  • LEAD SPONSOR: 19-0376 Financial Disclosures - Improves the process of identifying which City employees are required to file annual financial disclosures, the process for ensuring filing, and adding disclosure of board memberships as a section of the disclosure form.

  • LEAD SPONSOR: 19-0378 Ethics Board Administration and Staff - Strengthens the independence and investigative ability of the Ethics Board by making the Inspector General and the Inspector General's Office, the Executive Director and staff to the Board.​

  • LEAD SPONSOR: 20-0557 Administrative Procedure Act - Establishing a uniform procedure for the notice, publication, and adoption of regulations in Baltimore City government, and establishing the Code of Baltimore Regulations Annotated (COBRA).

Still to do:

Restructure the City Council

Being headed by an at-large elected Council President, the Baltimore City Council is structured unlike any other in the state, and is an extreme outlier at a global and historic scale. In order for a legislative body to produce democratic outcomes, it must be structured in a fundamentally democratic manner, giving equal power to all members. This is why when democracies throughout the state, across the country and around the world elect members by district to serve in a legislative body, the members of those bodies then themselves democratically elect leadership from within.


By electing an at-large City Council President, placing one person in a greater position of power than all of the other members, we undermine the democratic process of lifting up an uncorrupted majority consensus from the members. Instead of the members elevating a person to represent the shared majority will of the body, the President picks winners and losers, elevating and empowering them for the President’s purposes. Similarly, the President uses the Office’s considerable resources and staff in service to the President and those the President chooses, rather than the body as a whole and the work of all equally elected members.


Baltimore must do away with the at-large elected City Council President, and instead elect members solely by district, allowing/requiring that the members then elect their own leadership from within. Doing so will result in a better legislative process and greater legislative achievements, promote a higher standard of work and public accountability among individual members, democratize the staffing and resources of the body, and better serve the role of providing checks and balances with/against the Executive Branch.

Consumer and Environmental Protections

What’s Ryan done so far?

  • LEAD SPONSOR: 19-0366 Commercial Parking Facilities - Requires commercial parking facilities to provide customers a receipt at the time of payment, protecting vehicle owners against being wrongfully towed.

  • POLICY CHANGE LEADER: Announced 1/13/22 Stolen Auto Towing Fees - The City incurs a cost to tow a stolen vehicle from wherever it is recovered, but no longer passes that cost on to the vehicle owner. This is a direct outcome of Councilman Dorsey’s advocacy to Mayor Scott and the Baltimore City Departments of Transportation and Finance.

  • POLICY CHANGE LEADER: Effective Q1 2022 Police Report Fees - In general, Baltimore Police charges a fee to provide a copy of a police report, but now waives the fee for victims seeking a report of a crime committed against them. This is a direct outcome of Councilman Dorsey’s advocacy to Mayor Scott, Baltimore Police Department, and the Baltimore City Departments of Transportation.

  • POLICY CHANGE LEADER: Towing Fee - MD Attorney General Opinion 107OAG093- Councilman Dorsey served on the Baltimore City Trespass towing Board from 2016-2020, during which time he led the reduction of allowable towing fees from $440 to $300. During this time he requested to have the State provide interpretation of language in the State law that he believed did not allow for fees above $280, but which was debated against by towing companies wishing to charge much higher fees. As a result of his leadership and collaboration with Mayor Scott and the Baltimore City Law Department, the Attorney General of Maryland published a recorded opinion concurring with Councilman Dorsey’s reading of the law.

Still to do:

Establish a Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection

While the Baltimore City Code includes Article 2, Consumer Protections, and Article 15, Licensing and Regulation, which contain within them a combined 41 Subtitles, Baltimore has no professionalized staffing for business licensing or consumer protections, and no authority to take direct civil or environmental enforcement actions against entities operating either without required licensure or without adhering to the terms of licensure.


Council Bill 23-0347 - Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection - establishes a City Department dedicated to overseeing business licensing and consumer protections, including administering licensing, receiving and investigating complaints of abusive practices and violations of relevant state and local laws, establishing enforcement powers, researching and reporting on best practices, and other relevant duties.


In the absence of dedicated professional resources, various subtitles within Articles 2 and 15 of the City Code attempt to invent and reinvent a variety of inefficient and ineffective ways of overseeing specific types of businesses. These various methods are nearly impossible to keep track of, various boards rarely operating as intended or required by law. Professionalizing these functions will not only yield better outcomes, but require less staffing to do so, allowing the City to further expand its oversight to businesses like used tire shops and scrap tire haulers that are not properly licensed to prevent illegal dumping of tires, that plagues alleys and parks in communities all across the City.


Tighten Controls on Trespass Towing

Plenty of people have their vehicle towed by a trespass tower every day, most of whom have never heard the phrase “trespass towing”or know what it means. Google “predatory towing” and what you’ll find is descriptions of trespass towers at work. In some contexts it’s referred to as “non-consensual” towing, a phrase that in and of itself should let you know it’s problematic.


Trespass towing is the business of private towing companies towing vehicles from private property, typically from parking lots, like at a shopping plaza, apartment complex, fast food restaurant or other business, and then charging the vehicle owners to get them back. Trespass towers are allowed to charge for three things when releasing a vehicle back to its owner: towing, daily storage, and if a vehicle is not picked up within a certain time, their cost to send the owner a notice via certified mail. They’re also allowed to charge a “drop fee”, to release your vehicle if you approach them before they drive away with it. And they’re one of the only forms of business for which laws exist to authorize cash-only operations.


The State of Maryland provides a limited framework of regulation for trespass towing, authorizing the City to go further, which the City fails to do effectively. The City’s Trespass Towing law must be strengthened, to:


  • Codify a clear maximum towing fee

  • Reduce the allowable “drop” fee

  • Constrain conditions under which a “drop” fee is allowed

  • Require acceptance of credit card payment

  • Do away with the Trespass Towing Board, leaving oversight to a professionalized City agency for Business Licensing and Consumer Protection

  • Prohibit and fine for towing from unlicensed and non-compliant commercial parking facilities

  • Improve record-keeping requirements

  • Prohibit "patrol" towing


Fossil Fuels and Environmental Changes

We have a long way to go on fossil fuels and the environment. Many years into the fight to save our planet, much of the work in this area continues to be of the “low and slow” variety, setting weak goals for a far-off future, without having to face the challenge of any immediate change, and embracing changes that seem good on the surface, but simply trade one set of hazards for another.


Councilman Dorsey has been a leader in opening dialogue on needed changes big, small, challenging, and more challenging. To preserve our future as a city, a society, and a planet, and to improve our quality of life along the way, many changes are needed and possible through local governance but often overlooked and inconvenient to confront. Here are A few that Councilman Dorsey has sought to broach:

  • Gas stations are fossil fuel infrastructure and bad land use. They should be banned.

  • Gas powered leaf blowers are a noise and air pollutant. They should be banned.

  • An unchecked deer population and invasive plants threaten the future of our forests and public resources, including source water for drinking. The deer population must be culled and more must be done to remove invasive plants.

  • Inefficient land use not only costs the public more to sustain, but creates a much greater carbon footprint along the way. Land use policy needs to reflect the realities of sustainability.

  • Every October and November Baltimore City DPW drives diesel equipment up and down the City’s streets, burning fossil fuels to collect bags of leaves, to take them to be incinerated. This needs to stop.


What’s Ryan done so far?

  • LEAD SPONSOR: 18-0308 HOME Act - Source of Income - Prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of source of income.

  • LEAD SPONSOR: 19-0479 Property Tax Credit - Low-Income Employees of the City of Baltimore - Establishes a $2500 annual property tax credit for the lowest-earning 25% of employees of the City of Baltimore. Councilman Dorsey led first the initiative to introduce enabling legislation from the State, then the local bill to establish the tax credit.

  • LEAD SPONSOR: 17-0102 Complete Streets - Ordinance to bring comprehensive reform to the Department of Transportation. This law, now recognized as a national model of best practices in the creation of such policies, mandates safer and more inclusive design, equitable community engagement, prioritization of investments through an equity framework, and comprehensive annual reporting.

  • AUTHOR: Region-Centered, People-Centered: A Near-Term Transportation Vision for Baltimore City (2019)

Still to do:

Affirmatively Further Fair Housing

Baltimore, like the rest of the United States, has been dramatically under-producing housing for decades. There are many cascading effects from this, and the outcomes offend many of the most basic ideals the majority of our population claims to value. To note a few:

  • The cost of housing is steadily increasing at a rate that exceeds the rate of inflation, both for rental units and home sales, making life less and less affordable for more and more people.

  • Low-income residents continue to be concentrated in neighborhoods with high vacancy and low opportunity, segregated from middle- and higher-income residents, yet still paying far more in rent than what is considered affordable.

  • Population continues to decline, despite 2020 market analysis determining that Baltimore City’s population could be increasing by at least 5300 households annually, if only the housing units existed.

  • Older adults face great difficulty aging in place and keeping homes well maintained.

  • Supply (larger, multi-bedroom units) and demand (smaller, one-bedroom units) are inverse in proportion to one another.

  • Neighborhoods of higher opportunity and lower density are costing taxpayers more than their fair share in City services and producing an outsized carbon footprint.


Where our current zoning law, written for the explicit purpose of creating and upholding segregation, disallows anything more than one dwelling unit per property at most residential properties in the city, allowing for larger properties to be constructed as or converted into multiple dwellings is a key tool in addressing all of the above listed problems, and more. The Abundant Housing Act does exactly this.


The Abundant Housing Act allows for more sustainable, cost-effective, and equitable housing opportunity, and especially in the areas where it’s most needed by those who have been historically left behind and intentionally discriminated against. It expands housing opportunities near grocery stores, public transportation, Main Street business districts, and in neighborhoods where families can raise children in greater safety. It also allows for more timely and affordable renovation of vacant houses in Baltimore’s most blighted neighborhoods, and the rebuilding of those communities into places that can attract and sustain small businesses and create the job opportunity and tax revenue that comes with this.

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