ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday criticized the Maryland General Assembly for not acting on two pieces of emergency legislation he introduced to combat crime in Baltimore.
The Violent Firearms Offender Act and Judicial Transparency Act — two bills he previously submitted in 2020 — would strengthen sentences for violent repeat offenders who use guns and report the sentences doled out by judges, the governor said.READ MORE: Investigation Ongoing Into Vacant Home Fire That Killed 3 Baltimore Firefighters
“We have repeatedly proposed this legislation,” he said. “But year after year, the legislature has refused to take action.”
Hogan introduced the emergency legislation at the start of the ongoing special session to pass new congressional maps.
At a press conference Thursday, Hogan said Democrats in the legislature have not offered any alternatives to his proposals, and urged them to use the final days of the special session to take a vote.
“This isn’t just politics as usual. This is disgraceful and dangerous,” he said. “It isn’t a matter of Republicans versus Democrats; it’s a matter of life and death.”
If the legislations is not brought to a vote, Hogan pledged to reintroduce the bills again during the regular legislative session that starts in January.
Speaking Thursday on the Senate floor, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said crime and violence are issues that concern every lawmaker, but the special session was called for the constitutional duties of drawing a new congressional map, electing a new treasurer and overriding the governor’s vetoes from the previous legislative session, which are required to be taken up at the subsequent meeting of the legislature.READ MORE: Businesses Owners On The Block Protest Proposal To Close Establishments On The Street By 10 P.M.
“The Senate of Maryland stands ready to assist the governor in using the $42 billion that the state has to improve communities, to reduce violence today,” he said. “I wish there were a piece of legislation we could pass that would solve the problems. What we know is this is complex, and we have a lot of resources to bear, and we all stand willing and ready to help with that challenge, because it’s something that’s got to change for Maryland’s future.”
Democrats are in the charge at the state house with a super majority, and Baltimore Senator Jill P. Carter told WJZ she believes the bill firearms bill would duplicate mandatory minimum sentences that already exist.
“Crime is terrible and that’s why the matter of urgency is finding ways to interrupt that crime, ways to prevent crime,” she said. “We just implemented major police reform the last session, we’re still waiting for some of that to be implemented but we believe that restoring that trust between people and the police that serve them is one major step to stamping out some of the uptick in crime.”
Two years ago Hogan called out lawmakers for failing to pass the same bills.
“The public is literally crying out, pleading with the legislature to take these actions,” Hogan said in February 2020. “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.”
On Wednesday, Senate Republicans introduced a petition to consider Hogan’s emergency legislation, Under the rules, only 16 Senators would have to sign the petition to bring the bills to the floor, the Maryland Senate Republican Caucus said Thursday.
All 15 Republican senators signed on, but they could not get the additional vote needed to enact the petition.MORE NEWS: Shooting At Towson Student-Centered Apartment Building Under Investigation
“Improving public safety and keeping repeat, violent offenders off the streets of Maryland’s communities is not a partisan issue,” said Senate Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire. “Our constituents across the State are looking to us for leadership on this issue, and we are disappointed that not one of our colleagues would sign the petition to address this crisis immediately during this Special Session. Maryland cannot afford to wait.”