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).
2020 priorities include:
Marriage Should Not Be a Defense to Sex Crimes – Love is No Defense Act – SB230/HB590
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 sponsors: Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield and Senator Susan Lee.
Rape Crisis Centers – Budget – Response to Budget Cuts
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. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention recently announced drastic cuts in federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds and indicated grants for services would be cut. MCASA urges the General Assembly to take every action possible to ensure rape survivors continue to have the services they need.
SAFE Exams – Reimbursement and Confidentiality – SB406/HB425
This bill will prevent 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. The current 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.
Human Trafficking – Vacating Convictions – HB242/SB206
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.
This bill will address the recent In re: SK opinion allowing a 16 year old girl to be prosecuted for sending a picture of herself to two friends. The intent of the bill is to balance the need to prevent creation and distribution of child pornography, protect minors from being coerced into sending images of themselves, and prevent minors from being criminally prosecuted for what has become a common practice. Lead sponsors: Delegate David Moon and Senator Susan Lee.
Statute of Limitations – Civil Child Sexual Abuse
This bill will expand or eliminate the statute of limitations in civil suits based on child sexual abuse. Lead sponsor: Delegate CT Wilson.
Family Law Services for Sustained Safety Fund – HB170/SB_
This bill will require 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. Lead sponsors: Delegate Brooke Lierman and Senator Charles Sydnor.
Workplace Violence – Peace Orders – HB126
This bill will give 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 helped develop language to ensure employees will not face retaliation if they refused to participate in the proceedings. Lead Sponsor: Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary.
Protective Orders - Relief Eligibility - Rape and Sexual Offenses – HB248/SB210
This intent of this bill is to ensure that survivors of rape and sexual assault receive the same level of legal attention as survivors of domestic violence. This bill would move rape and sexual assault out of the peace order statute and ensure that survivors receive the more robust response of a protective order. Lead sponsor: Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary and Senator Jeff Waldstreicher.
Criminal Law - Assault in the First Degree - Suffocation or Strangulation – HB233/SB212
This bill will ensure strangulation and suffocation are treated as felonies. Lead sponsors: Delegate Jesse Pippy and Senator Susan Lee.
Sodomy – Repeal – HB081/SB_
Repeal archaic statutory provisions criminalizing consensual sexual activities. Historically these types of statutes were used to prosecute members of the LGBT+ community. Lead sponsors: Delegate David Moon and Senator Clarence Lam.
Sexual Solicitation of a Minor – HB246/SB231
Amending Maryland’s current law to permit prosecution when someone solicits sex from a minor through a third party, such as by asking the child’s parent. Lead sponsors: Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Jesse Pippy.
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To view a PDF of the 2020 Legislative Priorities, click here.
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.