ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — For the first time in decades, new faces took the podium with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan as he addresses some not-so-new challenges around the state.
Maryland lawmakers gathered Wednesday afternoon for an administrative eye-view of the state, with longtime Senate President Mike Miller back in his floor seat.
Senate President Bill Ferguson of Baltimore and Speaker Adrienne Jones of Baltimore County flanked Hogan on each side as he delivered the State of the State address.
Hogan's top priority is addressing the violent crime he said is "destroying Baltimore City."
"Every issue I have talked about here today, and all of the bills you will be considering over the next 61 days, are important and worthy of debate and discussion," Hogan said. "But none of them are nearly as important as addressing the out-of-control violent crime, the shootings, and murders that are destroying Baltimore City."
In his address, he mentioned how a two-year-old was shot in his stomach in October while riding a bike and that a 73-year-old grandmother was shot and killed when she was caught in the middle of gang crossfire.
"One concerned Baltimore City resident recently said of the violence: 'I don't know if prayers help, but we need prayers'," Hogan said. "I'm a big believer in the power of prayer. And yes, we do need prayers, but prayers are not enough. We are also going to need you to take action to get these shooters off our streets."
Hogan told Maryland lawmakers if they pass nothing else this session, they need to pass the Violent Firearm Offenders Act of 2020, which he said "increases penalties for those who use guns to commit violent crimes, toughens penalties for those who possess stolen firearms and guns with obliterated serial numbers, and those who use, possess, or supply illegal guns to violent criminals."
He also wants them to pass the Witness Intimidation Prevention Act, "which toughens penalties for those who intimidate and threaten witnesses,"
"People are being shot every single day in Baltimore City. This is an urgent crisis, and we have an obligation to do something about it right now. There can be no more excuses and no more delays," Hogan said. "The time has come for Baltimore City to finally take back its streets and communities, once and for all. And they simply cannot do it without decisive action from this General Assembly."
In addition to crime, Hogan also discussed a tax reduction for retirees that would help Marylanders stay in the state on a fixed income, a casino lockbox initiative that would drive millions of dollars into schools, the Purple Line and other transportation investments to stop bottleneck on roads and train lines, creating more jobs at the Port of Baltimore and cleaning up the Bay.
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