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Yesterday, we had some great news for all those who care about protecting vulnerable women and unborn children. Governor Larry Hogan signed into law, Senate Bill 561, Laura & Reid’s Law, legislation I filed working with the Wallen Family.

Laura Wallen was a beloved teacher from Howard County who was murdered by her boyfriend, Tyler Tessier. Tessier was charged with first degree murder for Laura’s death, but since Reid was only 14 weeks in development and not yet viable outside the womb, the State’s Attorney was unable to charge him with Reid’s murder or any other crime associated with his loss.

In working with the Wallen Family, I learned that one in ten pregnant women will experience physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. And even worse, pregnancy-associated homicide in Maryland is 10 times the national average.

With the passage of Laura & Reid’s Law, a crime of violence against a woman the perpetrator knows or believes is pregnant will be able to be charge with an additional felony and a jail sentence of up to 10 years in addition to any other sentence imposed for the underlying crime. This offers the access to justice for women and their families that was previously unavailable.

This could not have been made possible without the tremendous amount of help from my colleagues in the Senate and House – particularly, Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee chair, Bobby Zirkin and House Judiciary chair Luke Clippinger. I’m also grateful for Governor Hogan’s support and signature on this critically important legislation that takes a big step in protecting pregnant women.

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Correcting Issues with Pre-Trial Release of Sex Offenders:

I am also pleased that SB 228, Pretrial Release Restrictions for Sex Offenders was signed into law by Governor Hogan. SB 228 makes a small but important clarification in the language governing the pretrial release of a criminal defendant. Current law didn’t allow a court commissioner to order the with-out bail holding of a person who was “required to register” as a sex offender but had not, currently the law said only “registered”. A small change to the law makes a substantial difference. A commissioner will now be able to hold defendants that could have used the wording to their advantage.

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I consider it a great honor and responsibility to serve you in the State Senate and welcome your thoughts and opinions. Please feel free to contact me or my staff with any questions or concerns that you have.


Senator Justin Ready