Several pieces of legislation signed into law including new distracted-driving penalties, domestic violence protections and marijuana decriminalization
Annapolis, Md. – Building on tremendous progress driving down violent crime to 30-year lows, Governor O’Malley signed legislation to strengthen and improve public safety in Maryland. Three of Governor O’Malley’s 16 strategic goals involve enhancing the security of Maryland’s people.
Among the bills Governor O’Malley signed today were three measures to combat domestic violence. These efforts are part of the Administration’s goal to protect women, children and families by reducing violent crimes committed against women and children by 25 percent by the end of 2018. One of the measures lowers the burden of proof for final peace and protection orders from “clear and convincing evidence” to a “preponderance of evidence.” Another bill gives judges the ability to administer stricter penalties for committing acts of violence in front of a child. The third bill will add 2nd degree assault to the list of crimes for which domestic violence victims can obtain a final permanent protective order.
“The most sacred responsibility for any government is to protect the safety of its people. Working together with communities and law enforcement, we’ve driven violent crime down to its lowest level in 30 years, ” said Governor O’Malley. “The bills we’re signing into law today will help us build on this important progress and help keep more Maryland families and communities safe.”
“Domestic Violence impacts all of our communities, without discrimination based on color or religion; socioeconomic status or location.” said Lt. Governor Brown, who spearheaded efforts this session to pass the Administration's domestic violence legislative package. “Building strong communities starts with keeping people safe in their homes, and while the bills we're signing today are the next step in that effort, we will not rest until every Marylander is free from the fear of this senseless crime.”
The governor also signed bills codifying parts of a 2008 executive order creating the Maryland Statewide Interoperable Communications program. The legislation established a board to oversee the final development, operations and day-to-day management of the program to advance the State’s efforts to unify public safety communications for first responders in the event of an emergency or during extreme weather events.
To ensure security and integrity in Maryland’s correctional facilities, the Governor also signed bills to (1) enhance the State’s efforts to combat contraband in correctional facilities; (2) to unify intelligence gathering and internal investigations into one unit, creating a newly named Intelligence and Investigative Unit (IIU); and (3) to ensure the integrity of corrections officers by improving the Correctional Officers Bill of Rights.
Some of the other notable bills signed include Jake’s law, a bill that elevates the penalty for texting while driving to a criminal offense, and requires drivers involved in serious accidents to give law enforcement basic phone information so they can more quickly investigate activities leading to the crash. The Governor also signed legislation expanding Maryland’s medical marijuana program. And to better align our public safety efforts with judicial practice, the governor signed legislation decriminalizing possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana in Maryland.
In 2007, the O’Malley-Brown administration set a goal to drive down violent crime by 20 percent by 2012. Since that time, working with the brave men and women of law enforcement and a broad coalition of community partners, the administration met that goal in 2001, set a new goal and surpassed it yet again in 2012. The bills Governor O’Malley signed today also advance three of the Administration’s 16 strategic goals to reduce violent crime by 20% by the end of 2018; reduce violent crimes against women and children by 25% by the end of 2018; and deliver and maintain Maryland’s twelve core goals for homeland security preparedness by 2016.