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Republicans Call on General Assembly Leadership to Address Unfinished Business of Combating Violent Crime

March 24th, 2022 by WCBC Radio

Today, members of the Joint Republican Caucus called on Democratic Leadership and members of the General Assembly to address the unfinished business of combating violent crime before the Legislative Session ends in nineteen days.

Specifically, Republican Senators and Delegates are pushing for SB 861 and SB 652 to make it to the Governor’s desk.

“Rising crime, particularly violent crime, is affecting Marylanders across our state,” said House Minority Leader Jason Buckel. “Cracking down on violent and career criminals shouldn't be a partisan issue, and it's time for our Democratic colleagues to start taking this issue seriously and stop blocking meaningful legislation designed to keep the worst of the worst criminals in jail and off the streets.”

Republican Senators and Delegates are advocating for the passage of SB 861 – Public Safety – Firearms Crimes – Enforcement Center, Offenses, and Procedures which was passed out of the senate with key republican proposals added to the bill including making the theft of a handgun a felony and closing the “drug dealer loophole.”

“These are provisions we have been talking about for years,” said Senator Michael Hough (Frederick & Carroll). “This is the third year in a row the Senate has sent commonsense measures to the House to combat violent crime, and they have never received a vote or even the courtesy of a hearing. It’s time for House to take this up and not ignore what the Senate is sending them.”

Republicans are also calling on the Senate and the House to pass SB 652, the Officer Keona Holley Public Safety Act – which would prohibit parole for individuals who target and kill, or conspire to kill, a police officer simply for being a police officer. The bill is named for officer Keona Holley who was killed while in her patrol car in Baltimore City in December 2021.

“Passing this bill will allow the General Assembly to send a strong message that we stand behind our officers,” said Senator Bob Cassilly (Harford), the bill’s sponsor. “If you hunt down and kill police, you are not eligible for parole.”

In addition, Republicans are also encouraging the passage of Governor Hogan’s Violent Firearms Offenders Act, elements of which have been passed by the Senate for the past two years but died on arrival in the House without so much as a hearing.

“The Maryland General Assembly, and the House of Delegates most specifically, must decide if this will be the year it finally gets serious about fighting violent crime,” said House Minority Whip Haven Shoemaker.  “The House has repeatedly rejected sensible efforts to combat violent crime. How many lives could have been spared if the General Assembly had acted three years ago, or two years ago, or a year ago? How many lives could we save if we finally come together and do this now?”

Republicans highlighted that the violent crime crisis is not just a Baltimore City issue, it’s a regional and statewide issue.

“Violent crime is overrunning the city, it is dangerous, it is a crisis,” said Delegate Nino Mangione (Baltimore County) who has been impacted personally by the violent crime spike. “Homicides have hit a record in Baltimore County and violent crime is now endangering communities all over Maryland, and it is time we declare war on those responsible.”

Finally, Senators and Delegates were joined by Mr. George Hutcheson, a concerned citizen, Baltimore area business owner and friend of victims of violence.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or Democrat, because when a bullet comes at you, it doesn’t ask who or what you are,” said Hutcheson.