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Maryland Senate passes comprehensive crime bill, sends it to House

The Maryland Senate passed a sweeping crime bill Monday night that would raise the maximum prison sentences for dozens of criminal offenses, mostly involving repeat gun offenders.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.

Senators voted 36-8 to approve the legislation, which was put together by Sen. Bobby Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat who chairs the Judicial Proceedings Committee, as a comprehensive response to a surge in violent crime in Baltimore last year. Much of the opposition came from Baltimore, where a majority of the delegation voted no.

The bill addresses a wide variety of crime-related issues and includes spending requirements for a variety of crime prevention programs that would kick in next year. It includes many provisions proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan, but says no to his call for increased mandatory minimum sentences. Among other things, it restricts the eligibility of violent offenders to participate in drug treatment programs that senators wanted to reserve for those who commit nonviolent crimes.

Hogan, a Republican, welcomed the bill’s passage and called for the House to quickly send it to his desk.

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