Of the 651 people killed on Maryland highways in 2003, 106 were 21 years old or younger. Most accidents involving young drivers are attributable to three factors: inexperience, inattention, and impairment.
My friend Debi Hardy is with us today. She has educated young people about the dangers of drunk driving ever since her daughter, 13-year-old Janet Marie, was killed in October 2003. I commend her courage, commitment, and leadership.
Accordingly, I have introduce a three point legislative package that will lengthen the period for learner's permits from four to six months, mandate a 90-day suspensions for violations of provisional license restrictions, and revoke the license of drunk and drugged drivers under the age of 21.
The worse kind of tragedy is that which can be easily avoided. We want young people to exercise good judgment, while reminding them that bad judgment brings consequences.
Second, I want to protect witnesses and victims of crime from reprisals.
Criminals in our State's largest city are employing a new tactic to scare witnesses and victims of crime: "Intimidation by Infomercial."
This now infamous "Stop Snitching" DVD is a wake-up call for all of us.
Accordingly, we will reintroduce legislation that will make witness intimidation a felony punishable by a prison term of up to 20 years, and allow the statements of a witness to be entered into evidence without the individual having to testify in person.
Our prosecutors need this important tool now. Let's give it to them.
Thank you, Pat Jessamy, for the leadership and attention you have brought to this issue.
Third, I want to position our State at the forefront of the DNA revolution that is transforming our nation's criminal justice system.
Thanks to the advent of DNA testing as a forensic tool, violent criminals are being identified and apprehended, cases cold for years are being solved, and the innocent are being exonerated.
We propose expanding the DNA collections process by allowing samples to be obtained from qualifying offenders at the courthouse immediately after sentencing, guaranteeing quicker entry into the DNA database.
Maryland should lead as the DNA revolution transforms our nation's criminal justice system.
Not long after I took office, I declared that Maryland is once again open for business. Since then, our efforts to grow Maryland's economy have yielded striking successes.
A strong economic recovery added nearly 50,000 jobs to employer payrolls during 2004.
We are competing with other states for new jobs -- and winning. Recent successes include: American Woodmark: 300 jobs created in Allegany County.
Dreyer's Ice Cream: 300 jobs created, 200 jobs retained in Howard County.
Jos. A. Bank: 100 jobs created, 345 jobs retained in Carroll County.
Internosis: 170 jobs relocated to Prince George's County from Virginia.
Emergent Biologics: 300 jobs created in Frederick County.
Last July, Maryland led the nation in job growth.
The number of Marylanders receiving welfare benefits is at its lowest point since December 1963.
Maryland's unemployment rate -- 4 percent in December -- is 1.4 percent below the national rate.
Thanks to the Lieutenant Governor's leadership, and your support, we reformed Maryland's MBE program so that it better meets its stated mission: making minority entrepreneurs full partners in Maryland's growing prosperity.
Tourism increased 33 percent during the first half of 2004 compared to the same period in 2003, generating an estimated $788 million in state and local taxes.