Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has rounded up bipartisan support for an anti-crime initiative designed to crack down on repeat sex and drunken-driving offenders, address sex trafficking and support crime victims with transitional housing.
Hogan announced the plans at a news conference Thursday, with Democratic and Republican elected officials in attendance as he promised a collaborative effort. to enact measures that he said would “help protect the most vulnerable among us, improve services for victims of crime and help us reduce the number of future victims of crime.”
One of the proposals failed in the legislature last year without his backing. Sen. James Brochin (D-Baltimore County), who sponsored that bill, stood with the governor during the announcement, along with law-enforcement representatives and the parents of a police officer killed by a drunk driver.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby sat in the front row with other prominent Democrats from the city, such as Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus, and Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, a top member of his chamber.
Hogan said he would propose legislation to allow prosecutors to use a defendant’s prior history of sexual-assault convictions as evidence in cases involving subsequent sexual crimes. Brochin sponsored a bill to that effect last year, but the measure failed to reach the House floor after the Senate passed it toward the end of the legislative session.
Mosby, who has long advocated for the proposal, said she was grateful to Hogan and Brochin for taking up the cause this year. She mentioned several cases in which prosecutors were prohibited from introducing testimony from previous victims after charging individuals who had been repeatedly accused of sexual assaults, including a Baltimore man who won acquittal four times before finally being convicted.
“We do this federally, but we cannot do this in the state, and that’s a problem,” she said.
Hogan’s plans involve legislation to lift restrictions on when social-service agencies can report sexual-abuse offenses to investigators. Current law requires the agencies to have evidence of a relationship between the victim and offender to investigate, which critics say hinders investigations of sex trafficking involving children.
The governor said he will also introduce legislation that would make drunken driving a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison after three or more convictions. The same rule would apply after a second drunken-driving offense for people convicted in incidents that caused death or life-threatening injury.
He also promised $5 million to help provide up to a year of transitional housing for crime victims, saying many of them face homelessness and isolation.