- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2020

A poll released this week suggests that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is targeting the bull’s-eye by proposing to crack down on crime and criminals.

Crime is the No. 1 issue across the state, pulling in a 31% ranking among respondents, according to the Gonzales Maryland Poll, released Tuesday.

Education was second with 16%, transportation was third with 11%, while taxes and corruption tied at fourth with 9% apiece. The opioid crisis and health care responses were in single digits.

That nearly a third of Marylanders cited crime as the state’s chief problem isn’t surprising. The violent streets of Baltimore have been making cross-country headlines since the death of Freddie Gray occurred in police custody in May 2015 — an event that sparked rioting, a measured law-and-order response from the city’s leadership, political consequences and unrelenting crime problems.

Mr. Hogan, a Republican, proposes to guide the state and its political leadership — i.e., the General Assembly — toward the anti-crime off ramp by, among other things:

Implementing the Violent Firearm Offenders Act, which targets felons and other criminals who illegally possess guns and other firearms.

Beefing up the Office of the Attorney General with 25 additional violent-crime prosecutors and support staff.

Toughening sentences on violent offenders who commit crimes with firearms.

Developing a new juvenile anti-crime strategy.

Publishing the sentencing records of judges’ violent crimes cases to hold them accountable their sentencing decisions.

The governor also wants to combat political corruption, proposing the Ethics and Accountability in Government Act.

“It has become clear in recent months and recent weeks that a pervasive culture of corruption continues to exist, and that even tougher and more stringent laws are needed,” Mr. Hogan said this week. “The Ethics and Accountability in Government Act of 2020 will strengthen and toughen the state ethics laws in an effort to help restore the public’s trust and bring further transparency, accountability, and honesty to Annapolis.”

Mr. Hogan’s statewide approach and not merely Baltimore-centric; it’s a responsible and common sense approach to both deter and claim ownership of longstanding statewide problems.

In his words, “Keeping Marylanders safe is my responsibility.”

Now that the legislature has returned to Annapolis, lawmakers who are reluctant to share the governor’s tough-on-crime approach might go limp. But Marylanders must help stiffen their spines, tell them to hold their noses and vote “yea.”

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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