Maryland Gov. Wes Moore emphasized the state government’s recent accomplishments while noting the work that still must be done in his State of the State address to the General Assembly on Wednesday.
Moore said public safety remains his administration’s top priority. He also explained his four pillars of success for the year ahead.
“We will make Maryland safer, we will make Maryland more affordable, we will make Maryland more competitive and we will continue to make Maryland a state that serves,” Moore said.
Moore — who is entering his second year as governor — highlighted his administration’s accomplishments so far, including the creation of 40,000 new jobs, Maryland having the country’s lowest unemployment rate and lower crime rates.
To enhance public safety, Moore plans to support and listen to law enforcement officers and the communities they protect. The public safety debate is often dominated by “false choices,” between people “feeling safe in their skin or feeling safe in their communities,” he said.
“Do you support law enforcement or do you want to build stronger neighborhoods? Do you want to hold criminals accountable or do you want to focus on rehabilitation? We’re told to pick a side.” Moore said. “To break these false choices, we need everybody at the table.”
Moore hopes to answer calls for the state government to get illegal firearms off the street by launching a statewide center for firearm violence prevention and intervention, he said. The center will coordinate and partner with violence intervention programs across the state to prevent gun violence, according to a January press release from Moore’s office.
Moore also detailed several pieces of legislation he has introduced to the General Assembly this session to improve housing affordability and lower the cost of childcare. Many Maryland residents can no longer afford to live in the same neighborhood they grew up in, he said.
“Our state faces a problem of supply and demand,” Moore said. “Prices go up because we do not have enough homes. So building more homes will help to bring prices down.”
The Housing Expansion and Affordability Act, one bill sponsored by Moore, would lessen government restrictions on building new housing and allow for denser housing developments if they meet certain requirements set by the state, such as affordability and whether units are new or renovated.
In his speech, Moore championed the ENOUGH Act, a bill he recently introduced that will target specific causes of poverty in communities across the state. The bill will financially support partnerships within communities to help impoverished children and families.
Senate Minority Leader Stephen Hershey (R-Kent, Queen Anne’s, Cecil, and Caroline) delivered the Republican response to the address. He emphasized that Republicans in the legislature support Moore’s promise to leave no Marylander behind.
“However, we must underscore that achieving such a lofty goal requires much more than grand declarations. It necessitates concrete actions and collaborative efforts,” Hershey said.
Moore’s efforts to promote public safety are not proactive enough, he added.
State Republicans are advocating for the passage of the Safe Communities Act to prohibit those convicted of first or second degree murder from reducing their sentences through good behavior, Hershey said. In his speech, he also highlighted the need for violent offenders to be held accountable to protect communities.
Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s) represents College Park in the General Assembly and appreciated how Moore’s address emphasized partnership with the legislature.
“I feel very optimistic about our future and we are certainly on the right path with a great partner,” Peña-Melnyk told The Diamondback.