ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan called out Maryland legislators Thursday morning for what he calls a lack of action on passing several bills he believes will help address violent crime in Baltimore and around the state.
“People are being shot every single day and every single night in Baltimore City,” Hogan said.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: A Cold Front Sweeps In As Severe Thunderstorm Watch Ends
Hogan said he has been urging the state legislators to pass several bills that would hold local officials like judges more accountable for crime in the community and keep violent offenders off the streets.
The governor addressed the crime in his State of the State address earlier this month, saying it would be one of his top priorities to decrease crime.
Hogan said halfway through the legislative session, no action has been taken, ignoring what he said were widely supportive bills.
He’s hoping legislators will help target and decrease violent crime in Baltimore by passing three bills.
The Violent Firearm Offenders Act of 2020 will increase penalties for suspects that use guns to commit violent crimes, who possess stolen firearms and guns with obliterated serial numbers and those who possess or supply illegal guns.READ MORE: Waterfront Partnership Of Baltimore Offers Free Exercise Classes Along Inner Harbor
“The public is literally crying out, pleading with the legislature to take these actions,” Hogan said. “There’s no question that if you take the people who repeatedly shoot people off the streets, there’s going to be fewer people getting shot on the streets.”
The Witness Intimidation Prevention Act also increases penalties for those who intimidate or threaten witnesses.
Finally, the Judicial Transparency Act allows the public to see what sentences judges are giving the most violent offenders.
“We’re not trying to start a confrontation with legislators,” Hogan said, “We’re trying to save lives.”
Democratic leaders in the General Assembly Thursday urged the governor to provide resources to state agencies to try to get a better handle on crime.
Speaker Adrienne Jones said a third of Baltimore’s murder victims in 2019 were under state supervision and blames the governor for not adequately staffing the Juvenile Services, Parole & Probation and Correctional Services.
“Crime is an urgent concern of this legislature. I met with Mayor Young and House leadership to lend our support to his efforts last summer — and took the input of County Executives and legislators from around the state in crafting the legislature’s leadership package of bills this year,” Jones wrote in a statement.
Senate President Bill Ferguson in the Senate Thursday said the governor “went over the line” in suggesting Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Sen. Will Smith–and active duty military member–should step down from his committee position.MORE NEWS: Five People Shot Within An Hour On East Side Of Baltimore Sunday
“To come back [from Afghanistan] and say that he should step down from his leadership post, when an agency could start solving the problem today, that’s unacceptable,” Ferguson said. “This is a crisis. We all agree. There’s no question. No one feels comfortable with where things are when it comes to the status of violence across this state.”