Gov. Larry Hogan Feuds With Maryland Democrats Over Baltimore’s Violent Crime

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Patrick Hauf Contributor
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Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is on the attack against Maryland Democrats who refuse to support his crime bill package that aims to address violence in Baltimore. 

Hogan has focused the current legislative session, which started in January and ends in April, on attempting to pass a series of crime bills with a focus on increasing sentences for gun-related crimes. Both Maryland legislatures have a Democratic majority and are unlikely to pass Hogan’s proposed bills. Baltimore had 348 homicides in 2019 and is on pace for more than 300 additional homicides this year. (RELATED: ‘I Don’t Think Congress Did Their Job’: Maryland Gov. Hogan Rips Congress On Impeachment)

“People are being shot every single day in Baltimore, and nearly all people in every part of Maryland — in both parties, in every single demographic group — strongly support our legislation to take violent criminals off the streets,” Hogan told the Caller. “Yet the legislature refuses to act. I’m not going to let up until that changes.”

Hogan’s office often cites a December poll commissioned by his office from Ragnar Research Partners that showed 85% of surveyed Marylanders support harsher sentences for violent, gun-related crimes. 

Maryland Democrats have voiced opposition to the proposed increases in mandatory minimums for gun-related crimes included in the bill, saying they want to see more data that proves such penalties result in lowered crime rates. 

The Republican counter-argument to this, according to Maryland Senate Minority Leader J. B. Jennings, is straightforward: something must be done. 

“Doing the same thing isn’t changing anything — every day we don’t do something there is more death,” Jennings told the Daily Caller in an interview. “We have to try something. The status quo is not working.” 

Democratic Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Democratic Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment. (RELATED: Former Baltimore Mayor Indicted For Alleged Children’s Book Series Fraud)

Jennings added that he’s “optimistic” the legislature will pass some form of Hogan’s proposals, but that he’s worried the potentially watered-down version won’t have a “true impact.”

“We have to charge and convict these people — these criminals,” he said.

Specifically, Jennings said he wants to address police shortages in Baltimore and the issue of stolen firearms, which are used in the majority of gun-related crimes in Baltimore.

Hogan’s crime package includes a number of bills focusing on violent crimes. The main bill, the Violent Firearm Offenders Act, harshens penalties for gun-related violent crimes, stealing firearms, and possessing or supplying illegal firearms. Additional bills include the Witness Intimidation Prevention Act, which increases penalties for threatening witnesses, and the Judicial Transparency Act, which would make sentences given to violent criminals available to the public, according to CBS Baltimore. 

Maryland Republicans argue the bills are the beginning of a bipartisan solution for violent crime in Maryland, specifically Baltimore. Del. Kathy Szeliga, who serves as the minority whip of the Maryland House, said she is joining Hogan in urging her colleagues to pass the bills in a timely fashion, as there are only six full weeks left in the legislative session. 

“Crime victims are not partisan nor do they or their families care about politics,” Szeliga told the Caller. “We must come together to bring real solutions to the daily violent crime victims and bring a stop to the crime crisis going on in Baltimore. I hope and pray the Democrats respond and pass Gov. Hogan’s common sense crime package. It is life and death.” (RELATED: Two Officers Working With US Marshals Shot In Baltimore, Suspect Confirmed Dead)

The Charm City had 58 murders per 100,000 residents in 2019 — more than double the rate of Chicago.