Governor Moore Announces 2024 Legislative Session Public Safety Agenda and Legislative Action

Published: 1/9/2024

ANNAPOLIS, MD — Governor Wes Moore today announced the Moore-Miller administration’s 2024 legislative session public safety agenda. The administration is offering bills that will reform the state's victim compensation program, address recruitment and retention of police officers, and create a gun violence prevention and intervention office at the Maryland Department of Health.

“We’ve been clear since inauguration day that public safety is our administration’s top priority and today, we announced our aggressive approach to keep Marylanders safe. We will use every tool at our disposal including the budget, executive orders, partnerships and the legislative process through these bills that we will shape with the General Assembly,” said Gov. Moore. “We will not rest until we get this right. We will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of all Marylanders – and to people with guns who wish to do harm to our communities, we will stop at nothing to remove you from our neighborhoods.”

“Throughout our first year, we’ve seen the positive results that come from an all-of-the-above approach to public safety and strong partnerships,” said Lt. Gov. Miller. “But our work is far from finished. The legislative agenda we’re announcing today will build on the foundation our administration has built to ensure that Marylanders are safe in their communities.”

Press Conference 

Special Assistant to President Joseph R. Biden and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention Rob Wilcox  joined Governor Moore to speak in support of the announcement, as did Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Vinny Schiraldi; Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Portia Wu; Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dr. Laura Herrera Scott; and President of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police Clyde Boatwright; Special Assistant to President Biden and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention Greg Jackson, Attorney General Anthony Brown, members of the General Assembly, state’s attorneys, and members of the public safety sector from across Maryland also joined the governor in support of the announcement.

“When President Biden established the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, he directed the office to partner with states in our collective effort to end the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our communities apart,” said White House Office of Gun Violence Deputy Director Rob Wilcox. “Last month, Vice President Harris convened 100 state legislators at the White House to announce key actions states can take to protect their communities, specifically calling on states to establish their own State Offices of Gun Violence Prevention. With today’s announcement, Maryland becomes the first state to answer the call, establishing its New Center for Firearm Violence, which represents a critical step in focusing their investments on proven gun violence prevention strategies that can and will save lives.”

The Moore-Miller Administration’s 2024 public safety legislative agenda includes three bills: 

The Victim’s Compensation Reform Act will modernize Maryland’s victims compensation reform program to make sure that victims of crime receive the support they need to recover. This proposal makes the process more efficient, removes unnecessary barriers to receiving compensation, and allows for rapid awards for immediate needs like funeral or emergency relocation expenses. Victim compensation is proven to both help families in their recovery from crimes and to prevent future crimes, and strong victim compensation systems can increase the likelihood that victims of crime will be willing to testify against perpetrators of crime. 

The Growing Apprenticeships in Public Safety (GAPS) Act is focused on making sure that Maryland is training and supporting highly-qualified law enforcement professionals to protect our communities. The bill proposes both short and long term actions to help address the hiring and retention challenges that law enforcement and public safety agencies face across the state. The bill leverages existing resources and models to expand the use of registered apprenticeship as a pathway to law enforcement jobs. It also requires the establishment of a model policy for law enforcement officer wellness programs to ensure that police officers receive the support they need in their often challenging work. The bill also establishes a commission to do a deep dive into policies that can help recruit, train, and retain the next generation of law enforcement officers.

The Center for Firearm Violence Prevention and Intervention will be created within the Department of Health to consolidate and better coordinate the state’s public health approach to preventing gun violence. This new office will serve as a partner to local governments, advocates, and medical professionals engaged in the work of hospital- and community-based violence intervention programs. Maryland would become the first state to establish a state office of gun violence prevention, which was a key recommendation of the President Biden-Vice President Harris White House Safer States Agenda - which outlined actions states should take to reduce gun violence and save lives.

“The GAPS Act would attract the best and brightest in our state to apprenticeships in law enforcement," said Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Portia Wu. “These needed investments will bolster opportunities to expand the public safety workforce.”

“The GAPS Act will provide much-needed assistance to public safety agencies that administer a Cadet program,” said Maryland Fraternal Order of Police President Clyde Boatwright. "Statewide mental health and wellness policies are essential for establishing uniform standards for agencies to follow. Peer support, stress management, and other wellness programs are national best practices in our profession."

“The Maryland Department of Health is honored to be a part of the violence prevention solution,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dr. Laura Herrera Scott. “We’ve made it our mission to move in partnership with federal, state and community organizations to implement effective strategies that reduce risk, increase resilience, and create pathways for Marylanders to get help when needed.”

During his remarks, Governor Moore outlined the administration’s vision for juvenile justice focused on prevention, targeted interventions for the most at-risk youth, and accountability—including accountability from young people who commit crimes, state government, and the community. Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Vincent Schiraldi also provided an update about the progress that the department has made in transforming operations, in addition to announcing the expansion of The Thrive Academy, which is an intensive program that helps youth who are most at risk to be perpetrators and victims of gun violence.

“There is no one solution to addressing the issue of public safety in Maryland,” said Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Vinny Schiraldi. “We need to do everything we can to ensure accountability and coordination–while also taking steps to prioritize prevention. We can’t always be reacting to crime, we need to get ahead of the curve. That’s what the all-of-the-above approach will help us achieve, and I’m proud to work with Governor Moore to realize this vision.”