As a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and State Senate, Bobby Zirkin has kept public safety at the forefront of his legislative priorities. Senator Zirkin has fought hard for legislation in the areas of sex offenders, drunk driving, and domestic violence. Senator Zirkin has also strongly advocated for the reform of Maryland's juvenile services system, often a gateway to adult criminal activity.
Senator Zirkin has supported monumental legislation to protect children from sex offenders. As a member of the Maryland House Judiciary Committee, Bobby proudly suppoted the passage of Megan's Law, legislation that created Maryland's sex offender registry. Years later, Senator Zirkin fought for the passage of Jessica's Law, which created a 25 year mandatory minimum sentence without the possibility of parole for certain sex offenses.
Senator Zirkin proudly took the lead in sponsoring groundbreaking legislation in the area of sex offenders. Sex offenders have unfortunately used technology, particularly the Internet and social networking sites, to search for potential victims. Bobby has worked to ensure the safety of our children while using the Internet to communicate with their friends. Senator Zirkin was the lead sponsor of legislation that enhanced Maryland's sex offender registry by mandating that convicted sex offenders disclose all ‘Internet identifying information' to the public. In other words, convicted sex offenders will need to disclose their emails, online aliases, MySpace and Facebook accounts, and chat room names, in addition to physical addresses to authorities. In 2009, the on-line social networking group MySpace announced that it purged 90,000 individuals from its site due in large part to the use of sex offender registries like that used in Maryland. Senator Zirkin also sponsored the Online Child Safety Act of 2009 which requires Internet access providers in Maryland to provide parental controls for their services. It remains one of Bobby's proudest achievements.
Senator Zirkin actively fights against drunk driving. Following recommendations of a statewide task force assembled in 2007, the General Assembly recently passed a series of laws to combat drunk driving. The laws limit the use of Probation Before Judgment for second time offenders, promote greater use of the ignition interlock, and increase penalties for providing alcohol to minors.
Since his days on the House Judiciary Committee, Bobby has pushed for stricter use of the ignition interlock system. The interlock requires drivers with histories of drunk driving to breathe into a breathalyzer to activate the ignition on their cars. Research shows that the interlock system prevents drunk driving for the duration of the interlock order. In addition, statistics show that recidivism rates tend to drop dramatically, even long after the vehicle no longer contains the interlock system.
Senator Zirkin worked with a coalition of consumer advocates to pass groundbreaking legislation regulating the toy industry and the types of chemicals used in toys for infants. Working closely with the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, Bobby helped establish the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act of 2008, which identifies and prevents several sources of harmful toxins in our children's toys. Due to this law's success and others around the country, the United States Congress moved to pass national legislation concerning the content of lead in children's toys.
Senator Zirkin continues to advocate for victims of domestic violence. He supported an increase in the period of time for a temporary protective order from 30 days to six months if the alleged abuser cannot be found for service. The law eliminates the need for victims to continually return to court pending service. He co-sponsored legislation that added ‘stalking' to the definition of domestic abuse. He supported the expansion of the protective order to include the removal of firearms from the abuser's home. And he has supported strengthening the effect of Maryland's protective orders.
Due to Bobby's success in the field of public safety, he has repeatedly received endorsements from the Fraternal Order of Police, the Maryland Firefighters, the Maryland Correctional and Law Enforcement Officers, and law enforcement officers around Baltimore County and the State. Senator Zirkin will continue to fight for needed reforms in the area of juvenile justice, and stronger laws and enforcement of laws on drunk driving, domestic violence, assault of law enforcement officers, sex offenders.