Gov. Larry Hogan spent much of this week attacking the Democrat-led General Assembly for not advancing his bills aimed at reducing crime in Baltimore. On Thursday, Democratic leaders fought back.
Hogan’s latest comments came during a press conference Thursday. He accused legislators of ignoring a “crisis” in Baltimore by not voting his crime package out of committee.
“The public is literally crying out, pleading with the legislature to take these actions, but halfway through the legislative session, there’s been no action,” he said.
Hogan said the most important bill is one that increases mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes involving guns.
“There’s no question that if you take the people that repeatedly shoot people off the streets, there’s going to be less people getting shot on the streets,” Hogan said.
But Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Will Smith told The Baltimore Sunearlier this week that the bill isn’t going to get out of his committee because data shows that mandatory minimums aren’t an effective crime-fighting strategy. In response, Hogan called for Smith to step down as committee chair.
Smith addressed Hogan’s attacks at the beginning of his committee meeting on Thursday.
“While some of the draconian policies of the past have done really effective things in locking people up for generations, we now find ourselves in a position and in a situation where violent crime in Baltimore City and throughout our state is worse than ever — and, oh, by the way, we’ve destroyed and decimated generations of Marylanders, most of whom are black and brown,” he said of mandatory minimums. “I would ask the governor, if this is such a priority and if he has data to support — support for implementing new mandatory minimums, then please come down to this committee and give it to us — and present it to us, and then we can wrestle with it and have an intellectually honest conversation.”
Other Democratic leaders also hit back at Hogan.
“We cannot just add more criminal laws on the books if the ones we have aren’t being used effectively,” House Speaker Adrienne Jones said in a written statement. “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem.”
Jones said she has not met with Hogan once during the legislative session and invited him to talk with her if he is concerned about his bills.