Sen. Hough expected to sponsor them.
Frederick, Md (KM) Legislation to give prosecutors more tools to battle gang activity is expected to be introduced during the 2020 Maryland General Assembly which gets underway next week. .
Frederick County State Senator Michael Hough (R), whose expected to introduce these bills, says he chaired a gang task force which visited all areas of the state to hear from police, prosecutors, victims and other citizens on gang activity in their communities. He says gang activity is growing in Maryland, particularly in areas of the state which didn’t have this problem years ago. “But it’s not just in MS 13. There’s a lot of gang violence in Baltimore city And there’s actually motorcycle gangs out in western Maryland, the Eastern Shore. It’s not just even a problem in our streets. Even in our prisons it becomes a problem,” he says.
Senator Hough says he will also introduce legislation to close a loophole in the law which allows individuals who use guns in drug deals to escape prosecution on that offense. He says there was a crime bill passed a few years. “Unfortunately, one of the loopholes they put in there was that criminals could escape some of those tougher penalties if they happen to be dealing drugs while brandishing the firearm. I don’t know why they put it in there, but it was a big mistake.”
The 2020 General Assembly Session begins on Wednesday, January 8th at 12:00 noon.
One of the issues legislators will be tackling is how to pay for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which is a set of recommendations on ways to improve education in the state.. It requires the state to increase spending on education by $1-billion within two years. It passed the General Assembly in April, 2019, and it was allowed to become law without the Governor’s signature.
Some lawmakers say the Blueprint could cost the state between $2.9-billion to $39-billion. They also say it could lead to tax increases. But other legislators say there are other sources to tap into before there’s any discussion of tax increases.
Senator Hough says no specific bill has been presented yet. “I’ve got three kids in public school. I’ve always tried to be supportive of our teachers and our schools. I think the Governor has done a good job of that over the last couple of years: balancing the budget while putting in record funding for education,” he says
But whatever comes forward, Hough says he’s adamant about one thing. “Last year, I was glad to support a $300-million package which we had paid for, which was more money for teachers and special education. But obviously, I won’t support a package that calls for tax increase in order to pay for it,” he said.
By Kevin McManus