2019 - MCASA Legislative Session Final Report

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.  The 2019 legislative session brought continued progress for survivors of sexual assault.  

Thank you to everyone who made calls, sent emails, testified in Annapolis, and donated to MCASA to support our public policy efforts. You make a difference for survivors.

 

This session, MCASA continued to advocate on behalf of survivors of all types of sexual assault: child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, sexual harassment, rape, and other forms of sexual exploitation.  Our goal is to improve systems at every level.  Survivors should have access to justice, services, and support without regard to their immigration status, gender identity, class, race, age, or choice to participate in the criminal or civil justices systems.  Sexual assault must be condemned no matter who the assailant is.  The law should stop sexual violence without regard to whether the offender is a spouse, a co-worker, a family member, or clergy.
 
This year’s state legislative session brought important progress on many issues.  The Workplace Harassment bill creates major statutory reforms that will empower thousands of victims of sexual harassment in the workplace (HB679/SB872).  The bill was sponsored by the presiding officers, Speaker Mike Busch and President Mike Miller, and based on the recommendations of the Commission these leaders created last year.  This bill is one of many that Speaker Busch championed during his legislative career.  MCASA mourns the loss of Mike Busch and honors him as an effective and committed advocate for women.
 
While the Workplace Harassment bill has a wide scope, one of MCASA other top priorities has a narrow one.  With the leadership of Senator Nancy King and Delegate Kirill Reznik, a bill was enacted to prevent HIV for rape victims (SB657/HB1249).  This seems like an obviously correct policy, but was defeated last session and required strong advocacy to pass this year.  Thank you especially to Jen Witten and the Maryland Hospital Association; their partnership was crucial to passing this legislation.
 
Other bills regarding sexual assault forensic exams (often called “rape kits”) also passed.  Maryland will have mandatory rape kit testing and the funds to support this work.  Senators Will Smith and Sarah Elfreth led the charge in the Senate, and Delegate Shelly Hettleman sponsored House bills (SB767/HB1096; SB569/HB1268).  On another bill addressing rape kits, we were very disappointed that the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention opposed efforts to protect victim privacy in HB1248/SB933.  Freshman Delegate Sandy Bartlett successfully shepherded this bill through the House and we are delighted to have this fierce advocate for survivors in the General Assembly.  Experienced legislator Senator Jeff Waldstreicher also made strong efforts to find consensus and pass this bill, but ultimately ran out of time.  We are committed to addressing these issues in the future and look forward to continuing to work with Delegate Bartlett and Senator Waldstreicher.  All of these bills related to rape kits were supported the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee and their advocacy is welcome and helpful.
 
MCASA spent considerable resources this session on the issue of sex trafficking.  We were pleased that a bill creating a regional navigator system and services for youth survivors passed and that efforts to update the criminal code were successful.  Disappointingly, the bill expanding the ability of survivors to vacate convictions died in the Judicial Proceedings Committee despite the support of both advocates for survivors and the Maryland State’s Attorneys Association.  We look forward to continuing these efforts in the future and especially appreciate the efforts of Delegates Vanessa Atterbeary, Brooke Lierman, Jesse Pippy, and David Moon in the House.  Senator Susan Lee continues to be the leading champion of bills to respond to sex trafficking in the Senate and is always appreciated.
 
Marriage should not be a defense to sex crimes.  Maryland does not agree and still permits sex offenses against spouses as a matter of law.  Sadly, the bill to strike these archaic and insulting provisions did not pass (HB958).  Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield, Majority Leader Kathleen Dumais, and Vice-Chair Vanessa Atterbeary sponsored the bill this session and we look forward to working with them next year to pass it.  It should be easy, but will not be, and we will need the community to express its outrage that the provisions still exist.
 
Overall the session was a strong one and it is clear that many of the newly elected legislators care about responding to sexual violence and helping survivors.  We appreciate the new chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Delegate Luke Clippinger, for increasing the transparency of the Committee and for continuing his long-time support for survivors of sexual violence.  The Committee is more open and fair as a result of his leadership.  It is also gratifying to have so many women on the House Judiciary Committee who are committed to ending sexual assault.  New delegates Sandy Bartlett, Charlotte Crutchfield, Wanika Fisher, Lesley Lopez, and Emily Shetty all sponsored helpful bills and spoke out at hearings.  They join more experienced House legislative leaders this session, including Majority Leader Kathleen Dumais, Vice-Chair Vanessa Atterbeary, Vice-Chair Joseline Pena-Melnyk, Delegates Brooke Lierman and Shelly Hettleman, and Chair Maggie McIntosh.  Women in the Senate who continue to lead anti-sexual violence efforts include the incomparable Chair Nancy King and Senators Susan Lee and Sarah Elfreth.  Male allies are also crucial, and this session we especially appreciate Senators Will Smith, Jeff Waldstreicher, and Chris West, and Delegates Kirill Reznik, Ben Barnes, C.T. Wilson, and, of course, the presiding officers, President Miller and Speaker Busch.  Many others provided support in large and small ways.  The presence of these legislators in Annapolis will help make sure sexual assault is not minimized and that the needs of survivors are heard.  
 
Thank you also to the many advocates who work as partners in Annapolis and to the many MCASA members and supporters who took the time to testify, make phone calls, and send emails.  The Women’s Law Center of Maryland, Maryland Hospital Association, and Maryland State’s Attorneys Association continue to be strong partners. 
 
There is still work to do.  Please join MCASA and help continue the fight for sexual assault survivors.  www.mcasa.org.
 
Stay strong,
Lisae
 
Lisae C Jordan, Executive Director & Counsel
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault

TOP PRIORITIES

Harassment – Access to Remedies for All – HB679/SB872 – PASSED.  The Maryland General Assembly’s Workplace Harassment Commission issued its report last fall and recommended further discussion of statutory changes to increase access to legal remedies for victims of harassment.  MCASA served on the Commission and was 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.  These bills were introduced by Speaker Mike Busch and President Mike Miller and their commitment to making Maryland Workplaces the safest in the nation is much appreciated.  Thanks also to fellow commissioner and ally Mary Keating and to the Women’s Law Center of Maryland for their advocacy on this bill.  The legislation that passed is a wholescale reform of Maryland’s statutory protections.  Highlights include:

  • Elimination of the exemption for the personal staff of elected officials, providing these employees with protection under discrimination laws;
  • Adding independent contractors to the types of workers provided with

protection, an especially important step in the era of the gig economy; 

  • Expanding anti-harassment laws to cover all employers, including those with as few as one employee;
  • Anti-harassment enforcement measures against a wider range of people working in the State Legislative Complex, including those who are not employees or registered lobbyists;
  • Expanding the time that victims of harassment have to file for remedies, providing 2 years to file a complaint with a local human relations commission and 3 years to file suit.  Many victims are not able to file in within the current 300 time-frame;
  • Expanding employer liability to include discrimination and harassment by co-workers with the authority to affect an employee's workplace through direction, supervision, evaluation and other activities short of hire/fire authority; and
  • Explicitly prohibiting employers from engaging in harassment thereby expanding legal remedies. 

This will be tremendous progress for the women and men in Maryland.  It will help make our workplaces safer and more productive by preventing harassment and by giving workers better access to remedies when harassment occurs.  We urge the Governor to sign the bill into law and join these efforts to end workplace harassment. 

Preventing HIV for Rape Survivors - Access to HIV Prophylaxis – 3 Year Pilot – SB657/HB1249 –PASSED.  Maryland currently pays for emergency 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 creates a 3 year pilot program to provide n-PEP to rape survivors when medically appropriate.  Payments will be through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund and the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention will issue a report to give legislators information needed about whether the pilot program should continue.  In addition to the sponsors, special thanks to Jen Witten and Jane Krienke from the Maryland Hospital Association and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, Vice-Chair of the Health & Government Operations Committee for their help passing this life and health saving legislation.  Lead Sponsors:  Chair Nancy King and Delegate Kirill Reznick.

Marital Exemption for Sex Crimes – HB958 – NO VOTE.  Maryland allows marriage to be a defense to some sex crimes.  It is time to remove this archaic law from the books.  Discussion surrounding this bill were a bleak reminder that there is still much work to be done.  We will be back to fight for this important legal principle next session.  Lead sponsor: Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield.

BILLS BY SUBJECT MATTER

Rape Kits

SAFE Exams – Testing – SB767/HB1096 – PASSED.  This bill requires testing of rape kits and establishes standards for when testing is not required.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Shelly Hettleman and Senators Will Smith.

SAFE Exams – Funding for Testing – SB569/HB1268 – PASSED.m  This bill mandates funding needed to test rape kits.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Shelly Hettleman and Sarah Elfreth.

Preventing HIV for Rape Survivors - Access to HIV Prophylaxis – 3 Year Pilot – SB657/HB1249 –PASSED.  Maryland currently pays for emergency 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 creates a 3 year pilot program to provide n-PEP to rape survivors when medically appropriate.  Payments will be through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund and the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention will issue a report to give legislators information needed about whether the pilot program should continue.  In addition to the sponsors, special thanks to Jen Witten and Jane Krienke from the Maryland Hospital Association and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, Vice-Chair of the Health & Government Operations Committee for their help passing this life and health saving legislation.  Lead Sponsors:  Chair Nancy King and Delegate Kirill Reznick.

SAFE Exams – Reimbursement and Confidentiality – HB1248/SB933 – NO VOTE IN JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE.  This bill would have prevented the government from requiring that hospitals share graphic, private details of sexual assault in order to be reimbursed, and ensure that reimbursement policies are based on current science.  It passed the House but failed to receive a vote in the Senate Committee because of opposition by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention.  MCASA looks forward to working with GOCCP staff to provide education about the importance of privacy for sexual assault survivors.  We also express concern that the current GOCCP policy of limiting collection of evidence to 120 hours after a rape has the potential of letting a sex offender escape prosecution because important evidence was not collected.  The Maryland State Police will test cervical swabs in appropriate cases for up to 15 days after an assault; the state’s reimbursement policies should do the same.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Sandy Bartlett and Senator Jeff Waldstreicher.

Sex Trafficking

Human Sex Trafficking – Vacating Convictions – HB782/SB691 – NO VOTE IN JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE.  Current law permits a survivor of human sex 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 would have expanded the types of crimes that a human trafficking survivor can seek to vacate.  Jessica Emerson from the University of Baltimore Law School is a leader in this effort, providing passion and subject matter expertise.  Joe Riley, State’s Attorney from Caroline County, helped find the compromises needed to gain support from the Maryland State’s Attorneys Association.  It is unfortunate that members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee raised last minute objections and the bill failed in their hands.  Lead sponsors:  Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary.

Human Sex Trafficking – Statutory Modernization – HB871/SB690—PASSED.  This bill modernizes Maryland’s Human Sex Trafficking statute and makes technical changes.  Lead sponsors: Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Jesse Pippy.

Minor Victims of Sex Trafficking – Prosecution & Services – SB688/HB827 – PASSED (SERVICES ONLY).This bill would have prohibited prosecution of minors for prostitution and provide services for minor victims of sex trafficking.  The provisions regarding immunity from prosecution were amended out of the bill in response to strong opposition from prosecutors and the need for further discussion.  Provisions regarding services were re-worked to provide for more accountability and to ensure service providers had necessary expertise; the services component of the bill passed and will improve Maryland’s response for survivors under the age of 24.  MCASA appreciates the work on this bill by Steven Kroll from the Maryland State’s Attorneys Association and Amanda Rodriguez from the SAFE Center at the University of Maryland.  Lead Sponsors: Delegate Brooke Lierman and Senator Susan Lee.

Child Sexual Abuse

Child Pornography – Expanded Definitions to include “Lascivious” Images and to add Computer Generated Images – HB1027/SB736 – PASSED.  This bill will allow prosecution of child pornography for sexually graphic images of children in extremely suggestive poses that do not involve actual touching; this also conforms state criminal law to federal criminal law.  Importantly, this bill also adds computer generated images of children to the definition of pornography.  In order to comply with first amendment concerns, the computer images must be indistinguishable from an actual and identifiable child (including a “Jane Doe”).  Special thanks to Joyce King, Special Counsel at the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office who alerted MCASA and the Maryland State’s Attorneys Association to the deficits in the current law and helped advocate for the bill’s passage.  Lead sponsors: Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Lesley Lopez.

Continuing Course of Conduct – Child Sexual Abuse – SB129/HB712 – PASSED.  This bill makes a technical correction to the continuing course of conduct statute and will 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.  Carrie Williams, Counsel at the Office of the Attorney General, provided vital technical assistance and support for this bill.  Lead sponsors:  Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield.

Child Advocacy Centers – Statewide Organization, Duties, and Funding  – HB1007/SB739 – PASSED IN PART (CURRENT STATE FUNDING MANDATE STRICKEN).  Child advocacy centers are one stop shops which help respond to and investigate child sexual abuse.  This minimizes re-traumatization of victims and helps produce stronger evidence.  Positive amendments were added to require CACs for all children (not just “when practicable”) and to ensure that the needs of rural, suburban, and urban CACs are considered when a statewide organization is chosen.  Other language clarified the scope of CACs.  Of concern, amendments also not only removed a proposed mandate for a specific level of funding in the bill, they struck the current law requiring funding in the state budget.  MCASA will continue to monitor state resources devoted to responding to all form of sexual violence, including through CACs, and is proud to continue its strong support for child advocacy centers.  Lead sponsors: Delegate Emily Shetty and Senator Susan Lee.

Child Sexual Abuse – Statute of Limitations - HB687 – KILLED BY JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE.  This bill would have permitted civil lawsuits for sexual abuse of a minor at any time, eliminating the statute of limitations.  Amendments in the House Judiciary Committee also added a controversial two-year “look-back” window to permit a larger group of survivors to seek civil justice.  Lead sponsor:  Delegate CT Wilson.

Digital Images of Child Pornography -- HB97/SB1003 – NO VOTE IN SENATE JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE.  This bill would have modernized Maryland’s statute and responded to a court decision finding that the current child pornography statute does not cover video images.  The bill failed due to concerns about teens sexting teens and the desire to refrain from involving them in the criminal system.  We expect to address this issue next session.  Lead sponsors: Delegate Kathleen Dumais and Senator Susan Lee.

Personnel Matters – Information about Past Sexual Misconduct Against Minors – HB486/SB541—PASSED.  Requiring schools to obtain information about job applicant’s past history of sexual misconduct against a minors prior to hiring.  Background reviews also apply to substitute teachers and certain contractors.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate C.T. Wilson and Senator Clarence Lam.

Criminal Justice (see also, Child Sexual Abuse)

Sexual Abuse of Animals -- HB641/SB355 – PASSED.  This bill updates prohibitions on bestiality and will permit courts to order convicted defendants away from animals.  There is  a very strong correlation between sexual abuse of animals and other personal violence such as child abuse and intimate partner violence.  MCASA appreciates the leadership on this bill by Emily Houermale from the Humane Society and Adam Lippe from the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary and Senator Susan Lee.

Criminal Injuries Compensation – Increased Compensation for Claimants and Extended Support for Sexual Assault Survivors – HB968/SB672 – PASSED.  This bill increased the ceiling for criminal injuries compensation, providing substantially larger awards for crime victims whose financial costs are not covered by other means.  Significantly, this bill also allows claims in sexual assault cases at any time if there was “good cause” to file a claim prior to other deadlines.  Special thanks to freshman Delegate Wanika Fisher for including the provisions giving additional time for claims by sexual assault survivors.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Wanika Fisher and Senator Chris West.

Certification of Victim Helpfulness – U Visas – SB144/HB214  PASSED.  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.

Marital Exemption for Sex Crimes – HB958 – NO VOTE IN EITHER COMMITTEE.  Maryland allows marriage to be a defense to some sex crimes.  It is time to remove this archaic law from the books.  Discussion surrounding this bill were a bleak reminder that there is still much work to be done.  We will be back to fight for this important legal principle next session.  Lead sponsor: Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield.

Restrictions on Release of Information for Crime Victims -- HB1314/SB942 – NO VOTE IN EITHER COMMITTEE.  Victims of felony crimes have the right to protect their address and telephone number from disclosure.  This bill would have extended that right to all crime victims.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Ron Watson and Senator Susan Lee. 

Peace and Protective Orders

Workplace Peace Orders -- HB640/SB555 – KILLED BY SENATE JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE.  This bill would have given employers the ability to seek a peace order on behalf of an employee.  MCASA worked with our strong ally, the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, and developed amendments to ensure that employees would not face retaliation if they refused to participate in the proceedings; these amendments were fully supported by lead sponsor, Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, and the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill, but it was voted down in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary and Senator Justin Ready.

Protective Orders – Removing Time Limit for POs based on Sexual Assault – HB122/SB209 – FAILED -  FILIBUSTERED ON SENATE FLOOR.  This bill would have removed 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.  The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee added amendments that made the law worse, not better.  A conference committee then found a compromise but this was challenged on the Senate floor and the bill died on sine die.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Kathleen Dumais and Senator Susan Lee.

Protective Orders - Wireless Service -- HB253 – KILLED IN JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE.  This bill have permitted the court to order transfer billing responsibility and the right to use a cell phone to a person eligible for relief in a protective order proceeding.  Lead sponsor:  Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith.

Budget

Rape Crisis Centers – Budget – FUNDING PROVIDED.  One of MCASA’s most important duties is to advocate and monitor continued budgetary support for rape crisis centers.  Local comprehensive rape crisis programs are the backbone of Maryland’s response to survivors.  They provide direct services for survivors, participate in Sexual Assault Response Teams, and help educate their local communities.  In 2017, the General Assembly mandated formula funding for rape crisis centers and this year’s budget complies with that mandate.

Increased Transparency for GOCCP – ENACTED BUDGET REQUIREMENTS.  In an exercise of its oversight authority, the Maryland General Assembly imposed significant new transparency requirements on the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention.  These specifically include a mandate to provide a detailed reconciliation of grant funding, personnel and operating expenses by major initiatives (including the Victim Services Unit), and information related to the transfer of the Office for Children.  The office will also be required to establish a separate budget code and name. 

Funding for Legal Representation at College Sexual Assault Hearings – SB396/HB633 – PASSED.  Mandating funding for legal representation for lawyers for both parties in college sexual assault hearings.  A bill passed last session requiring attorneys in these proceedings, but the Governor did not include funding in the budget so this bill was passed in response.  In addition to the sponsors, Delegate Ben Barnes also helped champion this bill.  Lead sponsors:  Senator Sarah Elfreth and Delegate Brooke Lierman. 

SAFE Exams – Funding for Testing – SB569/HB1268 – PASSED.  This bill mandates funding needed to test rape kits.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Shelly Hettleman and Sarah Elfreth.

Minor Victims of Sex Trafficking – Prosecution & Services – SB688/HB827 – PASSED (SERVICES ONLY).  This bill would have prohibited prosecution of minors for prostitution and provide services for minor victims of sex trafficking.  The provisions regarding immunity from prosecution were amended out of the bill in response to strong opposition from prosecutors and the need for further discussion.  Provisions regarding services were re-worked to provide for more accountability and to ensure service providers had necessary expertise; the services component of the bill passed and will improve Maryland’s response for survivors under the age of 24.  MCASA appreciates the work on this bill by Steven Kroll from the Maryland State’s Attorneys Association and Amanda Rodriguez from the SAFE Center at the University of Maryland.  Lead Sponsors: Delegate Brooke Lierman and Senator Susan Lee.

Family Law Services for Sustained Safety Fund - SB811/HB665 – NO VOTE IN SENATE JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE.  This bill would have required the State to devote an additional $3 million of Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding for legal services in custody and divorce cases for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.  No current grant awards would be reduced.  Approximately $60 million of VOCA funds are currently unspent, with additional millions of federal funding anticipated this fiscal year.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Brooke Lierman and Senator Will Smith.

Workplace Harassment

Harassment – Access to Remedies for All – HB679/SB872 – PASSED.  The Maryland General Assembly’s Workplace Harassment Commission issued its report last fall and recommended further discussion of statutory changes to increase access to legal remedies for victims of harassment.  MCASA served on the Commission and was 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.  These bills were introduced by Speaker Mike Busch and President Mike Miller and their commitment to making Maryland Workplaces the safest in the nation is much appreciated.  Thanks also to fellow commissioner and ally Mary Keating and to the Women’s Law Center of Maryland for their advocacy on this bill.  The legislation that passed is a wholescale reform of Maryland’s statutory protections.  Highlights include:

  • Elimination of the exemption for the personal staff of elected officials, providing these employees with protection under discrimination laws;
  • Adding independent contractors to the types of workers provided with protection, an especially important step in the era of the gig economy; 
  • Expanding anti-harassment laws to cover all employers, including those with as few as one employee;
  • Anti-harassment enforcement measures against a wider range of people working in the State Legislative Complex, including those who are not employees or registered lobbyists;
  • Expanding the time that victims of harassment have to file for remedies, providing 2 years to file a complaint with a local human relations commission and 3 years to file suit.  Many victims are not able to file in within the current 300 time-frame;
  • Expanding employer liability to include discrimination and harassment by co-workers with the authority to affect an employee's workplace through direction, supervision, evaluation and other activities short of hire/fire authority; and
  • Explicitly prohibiting employers from engaging in harassment thereby expanding legal remedies. 

This will be tremendous progress for the women and men in Maryland.  It will help make our workplaces safer and more productive by preventing harassment and by giving workers better access to remedies when harassment occurs.  We urge the Governor to sign the bill into law and join these efforts to end workplace harassment. 

Workplace Peace Orders – HB640/SB555 – KILLED BY SENATE JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE.  This bill would have given employers the ability to seek a peace order on behalf of an employee.  MCASA worked with our strong ally, the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, and developed amendments to ensure that employees would not face retaliation if they refused to participate in the proceedings; these amendments were fully supported by lead sponsor, Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, and the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill, but it was voted down in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary and Senator Justin Ready.

Other Subjects

Name Changes for Minors – HB83 – Support – NO VOTE IN SENATE JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE.  This bill would have permitted changing a child’s name without publication if both parents agreed or 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 or parent.  Lead sponsor:  Delegate Steve Lafferty.

Workgroup on Child Custody Proceedings Involving Child Abuse or Domestic Violence – SB567 – PASSED.  Establishing a workgroup to look at how custody proceeding involving allegations of abuse are handled.  Allegations of child sexual abuse can be especially difficult in custody cases, particularly if a child is too young to provide consistent testimony or the case includes a genuine but mistaken belief about abuse.  This workgroup includes a representative of a rape crisis center or sexual assault coalition.  Lead Sponsor:  Senator Susan Lee.

Emancipation Process for Minors – HB1147 – Support with Amendments – DIED IN SENATE.  This bill would have established a process for a minor to petition to become emancipated.  It also included provisions permitting emancipated minors over age 17 to marry.  MCASA supported this bill as a rare, but important option for some young survivors.  We also advocated that the age of emancipation and the age to marry should be consistent.  The Senate made substantial changes that changed the nature of the bill and the legislative session ended before these could be reconciled.  Lead sponsor:  Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary.

Protection of Victim Information – 911 Communications – HB215/SB5 – PASSED.  Mandating that victims of sexual assault and domestic violence about Public Information Act (PIA) requests for 911 communications and requiring the custodian of records to consider their input when deciding whether to grant the request for information.  Lead sponsors:  Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Michael Jackson. 

Examinations of Unconscious or Anesthetized Patients – SB909/HB364 – PASSED.  Prohibiting pelvic, prostate, or rectal exams on unconscious or anesthetized patients without the informed consent of the patient.  Also requiring that the procedure be within a medical standard of care and providing for exceptions for emergency situations.  The bill responded to media reports regarding medical students practicing these exams on patients who do not need them.  Lead sponsors:  Delegate Heather Bagnall and Senator Brian Feldman.

Join MCASA to support this important legislation and learn more about how you can help end sexual violence in Maryland.

Visit mcasa.org and sign up for Legislative E-lerts

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

To view a PDF of the laws passed in 2019, click here.

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.