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Hogan signs anti-crime package, other measures

Gov. Larry Hogan holds a puppy as he signs into law a number of bills favored by animal activists, including legislation to end so-called puppy mills and another that would require research facilities to offer dogs and cats to shelters once they're no longer needed. (Bryan P. Sears)

Gov. Larry Hogan holds a puppy Tuesday as he signs into law a number of bills favored by animal activists, including legislation to end so-called puppy mills and another that would require research facilities to offer dogs and cats to shelters once they’re no longer needed. (Bryan P. Sears)

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan Tuesday signed a package of bills he and legislative leaders said would help reduce violent crime, particularly in Baltimore, by imposing tougher sentences on repeat violent offenders and those who use guns in the commission of crimes.

The bills, some controversial, were among more than 200 signed by the governor Tuesday that also included legislation mandating defendants deemed incompetent to stand trial be transferred in a timely fashion to state hospitals, a bill aimed at finding homes for dogs used in research, and a measure meant to ensure that out-of-state companies pay taxes in Maryland.

“This morning, we are signing a number of important initiatives, including tougher sentences for repeat violent offenders and people who commit crimes with a gun,” said Hogan. “Keeping Marylanders safe is our No. 1 priority.”

Hogan thanked Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin, D-Baltimore County and chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, for his work on the package of bills, which were signed on the senator’s birthday.

A vast majority of the items contained in the package were cobbled together into one omnibus violent crime bill that was sent to the House of Delegates. Criticism of some provisions within the bill, including fierce opposition to some mandatory sentences for repeat violent offenders, resulted in the larger measure being broke up into pieces and passed.

The House eliminated a number of stiffer penalties that opponents said would result in the mass incarceration of minorities.

Also signed was a measure that includes funding for the Safe Streets program, which is focused on reducing violent crime. The program is a priority for Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.

House Bill 111, which requires the state Department of Mental Health to commit to care those criminal defendants found incompetent to stand trial within 10 business days, is now law. It gives the courts wide latitude in imposing penalties for failure to meet the new requirements, including charging the state for costs to keep a defendant in a detention center. The passage of the bill comes months after a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge found then Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader and other state health officials in contempt of court for repeated delays in transferring defendants to state hospitals.

Out-of-state corporations doing business in the state will be required to pay Maryland taxes under a single sales factor law that goes into effect July 1. Under the new law, income subject to Maryland taxes is determined by taking into account the amount of in-state sales of the corporation. The law was supported by a number of Maryland-based corporations including T. Rowe Price and Under Armour, which claimed the current law benefited out-of-state companies but penalized those located in Maryland.

“The current law discouraged investment in Maryland,” Adam Kane, vice president of Corporate Affairs for Catonsville-based Erickson Living, said in a statement. “Whenever a business wanted to hire another employee, buy a new piece of equipment, or expand locations, their taxes went up. Single sales factor changes that and encourages these types of needed investments.”

Hogan signed two firearms-related bills including one that was a priority for Democratic leaders in the General Assembly.

The governor signed the so-called “Red Flag” bill that allows the court to order firearms seized from persons determined to be an “extreme risk” to themselves or others.

Hogan also signed into law a bill that bans the use of rapid-fire trigger activators, such as bump stocks, unless they have authorization from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms by Oct. 1, 2019. Democratic lawmakers made the banning of such devices a priority after nearly five dozen people were killed and hundreds of others wounded, including a Maryland woman, in an attack at a concert in Las Vegas where the gunman used a bump stock modification.

Hogan signed three bills lauded by animal advocates. The first requires research facilities to place dogs and cats into shelters for adoption after those facilities have finished with the animals.

A second targets so-called puppy mill breeders by restricting where retail pet shops can obtain the puppies and kittens they sell. Those stores now will be required to obtain their animals from animal welfare organizations, local animal control facilities and licensed breeders.

A third bill allows judges to prohibit persons convicted of cruelty to animals from legally owning other pets.




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