2019 - MCASA Legislative Priorities

The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) supports legislation that promotes justice for survivors of sexual violence, accountability for offenders, and protection for the general public.  MCASA responds to policy questions and legislative initiatives throughout Maryland's legislative session (January-April). 

Our priority list will expand as the session develops, current 2019 priorities include:

 

Preventing HIV for Rape Survivors - Access to HIV Prophylaxis

Maryland currently pays for medical expenses of sexual assault survivors related to the assault, but refuses reimbursement for HIV prophylaxis beyond the first packet of medication.  Even starter packs are provided only to some survivors, leaving others with no access to treatment.  This is in violation of current medical guidelines and creates significant barriers for survivors of rape who want to try to prevent HIV.  This bill will clarify that n-PEP must be provided to rape survivors when medically appropriate.  Lead Sponsors:  Chair Nancy King and Delegate Kirill Reznick.

Harassment – Access to Remedies for All

The Maryland General Assembly’s Workplace Harassment Commission issued its report and recommended further discussion of statutory changes to increase access to legal remedies for victims of harassment.  MCASA is particularly concerned that the General Assembly craft solutions that help all women, including low income women and women of color who often lack meaningful access to justice.

SAFE Exams - Testing

This bill requires testing of rape kits and establishes standards for when testing is not required.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Shelly Hettleman and Senator Will Smith.

SAFE Exams – Funding for Testing

This bill mandates funding needed to test rape kits.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Shelly Hettleman and Senator Sarah Elfreth.

SAFE Exams – Reimbursement and Confidentiality

This bill prevents the government from requiring that hospitals share graphic, private details of sexual assault in order to be reimbursed, and ensures that reimbursement policies are based on current science.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Sandy Bartlett and Senator Jeff Waldstreicher.

Human Trafficking – Vacating Convictions

Current law permits a survivor of human trafficking to vacate a conviction for prostitution when the underlying activity was caused by trafficking.  This fails to include many other crimes that are related to trafficking, such as loitering, indecent exposure, and drug possession.  This re-introduced bill will expand the types of crimes that a human trafficking survivor can seek to vacate.  Lead sponsors:  Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary.

Human Trafficking – Statutory Modernization

This bill modernizes Maryland’s Human Trafficking statute and makes technical changes.  Lead sponsors: Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Jesse Pippy.

Certification of Victim Helpfulness – U Visas – SB144/HB214

Requiring public officials to respond to requests for a certification of helpfulness within 90 days.Certifications of helpfulness are used in U Visa applications, which are available to persons in the US without status who are victims of violent crime and assist with prosecution.Survivors of rape, incest, human trafficking, and other sex crimes are among those eligible.  Lead Sponsors:  Senator Malcolm Augustine and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk.

Protective Orders – Removing Time Limit for POs based on Sexual Assault – HB122/SB209.  This bill will remove the current one year time limit on filing for a protective order based on sexual offenses against someone who is not an intimate partner and clarify applicability of the protective order statute.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Kathleen Dumais and Senator Susan Lee.

Name Changes for Minors – HB83 – Support with Amendment

This bill permits changing a child’s name without publication if both parents agree.  MCASA respectfully requests an amendment to permit changes without publication if it is in the best interests of the child.  MCASA’s Sexual Assault Legal Institute has handled several cases where a child’s name is changed because a parent is convicted of sex crimes or has abused the child.  Lead sponsor:  Delegate Steve Lafferty.

Marital Exemption for Sex Crimes

Maryland allows marriage to be a defense to some sex crimes.  It is time to remove this archaic law from the books.  Lead sponsors: Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield.

Continuing Course of Conduct – Child Sexual Abuse – SB129

This bill makes a technical correction to the continuing course of conduct statute and would allow the state to file more than one charge against a perpetrator who had committed three or more sexual offenses against a child over multiple 90 day periods.  It responds to the Bey case decision of the Court of Appeals.  Lead sponsors:  Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield.

Child Pornography

A bill to expand Maryland’s definition of child pornography to include sexually graphic images of children and conform state criminal law to federal criminal law.  Lead sponsors: Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Lesley Lopez.

 

Lisae C Jordan Executive Director & Counsel Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault

 

To view a PDF of the 2019 Legislative Priorities, click here.

To view a PDF of the laws passed in 2018, click here.

To view a PDF of the final 2018 Legislative Priorities, click here

To view a PDF of the final 2017 Legislative Priorities, click here

To view a PDF of the final 2016 Legislative Priorities, click here.

MCASA encourages and appreciates the support of its member programs and allies in Annapolis.  Members with suggestions about MCASA’s Legislative Priorities are encouraged to contact [email protected] or call 301-328-7023

Together we can improve Maryland’s response to survivors, help bring offenders to justice, and end sexual violence.