2018 – MCASA Legislative Priorities

The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) is a non-profit membership organization that includes all of the State’s seventeen rape crisis centers, law enforcement, mental health and health care providers, attorneys, educators, survivors of sexual violence and other concerned individuals.  MCASA includes the Sexual Assault Legal Institute (SALI), a statewide legal services provider for survivors of sexual assault.  MCASA represents the unified voice and combined energy of all of its members working to eliminate sexual violence in the State of Maryland.

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.  Click below for 2018's Legislative Priorities.

Priorities

2018 Legislative Priorities

Rape Survivor Family Protection Act – HB1/SB2 - ENACTED AS LAW

 

Current law gives rapists who cause a child to be conceived the same rights as other biological parents. Additionally, if a rapist-parent cannot be located, current law requires that the victim’s name be published in the newspaper.  MCASA continues to support legislation to limit the parental rights of rapists when the child was conceived through rape and to increase protections for rape survivors who have a child conceived through rape.

We stand firm in our commitment to enacting legislation with a clearing and convincing standard of evidence.  This is the same standard used in other family law cases that result in the termination of parental rights.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegates Kathleen Dumais and Michael E Busch; Senators Brian Feldman, Susan Lee, and Mike Miller.

Access to HIV Prophylaxis for Rape and Child Sexual Abuse Survivors – HB639/SB731 - FAILED as a result of inflated fiscal note

 

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.  This creates significant barriers for survivors.  This bill would have clarified that n-PEP must be provided when medically appropriate.  The Department of Health provided cost estimated based on assumptions that every single survivor who reported a rape would get an exam within 72 hours, would be medically appropriate for n-PeP, and and would choose to take the full course of medication.  When challenged, the Department refused to revise the estimated cost and, as a result, the bill died.  However, the General Assembly has asked the for a report regarding costs of n-PeP as part of the budget process (through the Joint Chairman’s Report) and the Attorney General’s Committee on Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding will continue to partner with MCASA to find a way to give rape survivors access to medication to prevent HIV infection.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Aruna Miller and Senator Brian Feldman.

Past Bad Acts – HB301/SB270-PASSED 

This bill expands admissibility of prior acts of sexual abuse or sexual assault in later sex crimes cases when the defense is consent and in cases involving minors where the defense is fabrication.  This bill has been introduced on and off for decades.  Special thanks to Scott Shellenberger, State’s Attorney for Baltimore County and John Cox, his Deputy State’s Attorney, for fighting for this bill for decades.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, Senator Jim Brochin.

 

#MeTooMaryland – Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018 -SB1010/HB1596- PASSED

Prohibiting employers from requiring employees to waive substantive or procedural rights addressing sexual harassment and making such agreements void as against public policy unless prohibited by federal law.  Requiring two surveys (in 2020 and 2022) of larger employers regarding the number of sexual harassment settlements, the number that contain non-disclosure agreements, and the number that involved repeat offenders during the preceding 10 years.  Lead Sponsors:  Senator Craig Zucker and Delegate Kris Valderrama.

College Sexual Assault – Fair Process - SB607/HB913-PASSED    

A bill codifying fair process in college sexual assault proceedings, preventing roll-back of protections for victims of sexual assault, and providing students with access to counsel in formal title IX cases.  This bill also includes rape shield protections for students and provisions to protect students’ mental health treatment histories.  With this bill, Maryland helps lead the nation with state-level protections for fair process in college sexual assault proceedings.  Lead Sponsors:  Senator Joan Carter Conway and Delegate Aruna Miller.

College Sexual Assault – Transfer Students - SB1027/HB713 - Unfavorable in EHEA

Requiring colleges to check the disciplinary records of incoming transfer students to impose conditions upon students who have committed sexual misconduct at their previous school.  This bill was unfavorably reported by the Senate EHEA Committee.  Lead Sponsors:  Senator Rich Madeleno and Delegate Marice Morales.

College Sexual Assault -- Training - HB1238 - Withdrawn

Requiring training regarding sexual assault, trauma-informed responses, and legal rights and remedies for college personnel.  This bill would have created a grant fund administered by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.  The bill was withdrawn after it became apparent that the schools believed the funds should be used to assist both survivors of sexual assault and accused students; whatever the merits of this idea, the purpose of the bill was to address ending sexual violence. Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Shelly Hettleman and Senator Cheryl Kagan.

Middle and High School Students - Education About Boundaries and Consent – HB251/SB402-PASSED  

Providing age-appropriate education to middle and high school students about the importance of obtaining consent before touching someone else.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Ariana Kelly and Senator Craig Zucker

Child Sexual Abuse – Training for Mandatory Reporters – SB131/HB600 (did not pass), HB1071 - PASSED

Several bills addressed the issue of training about child sexual abuse, or child abuse generally, for professionals who work with children.   House Bill 1071 was amended substantially and passed.  It will require annual training for school employees about child sexual abuse prevention, identification, and reporting. Lead Sponsors:  Senator Bobby Zirkin and Senator Susan Lee, Delegate Susan McComas, Delegate CT Wilson.

Child Sexual Abuse – Out of Court Statements – HB192/SB781 with Amendment - Withdrawn

Permitting a child’s first statement regarding child sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect to be admitted into evidence if the statement is made to an adult, reported to authorities, and recorded.  MCASA strongly supports the intent of the bill, but has concerns that requiring that a statement be recorded may lead to inappropriate and harmful coaching.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary and Senator Anthony Muse.

  

Mandatory Waiver of Privilege – HB1628 -- OPPOSE - Withdrawn

This bill will automatically waive a minor patient’s mental health privilege if there has been a report of suspected child abuse.  Current practice provides for individualized determination of whether waiving privilege is in the minor’s best interests and includes consideration of the child’s opinion.  MCASA believes an automatic waiver will disempower victims of sexual abuse and deprive some victims of their therapeutic relationship.  Lead Sponsor:  Delegate Shelly Hettleman.

  

Human Trafficking and Sexual Assault - Certification of Victim Helpfulness – U Visas – SB581/HB461 - Did not pass  

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 Victor Ramirez and Delegate Marice Morales.

Human Trafficking – Crime of Violence – HB346/SB297 - Did not pass

Classifying human trafficking against minors or using force as a “crime of violence”; this increases the actual time a convicted trafficker is imprisoned and has other legal effects.  Lead Sponsor: Administration.

Human Trafficking – Re-Codification – SB881/HB1276 - Died in Committee

Re-codifying Maryland’s human trafficking laws, clarifying sex trafficking provisions, extending the statute of limitation for civil human trafficking actions, creating the crime of labor trafficking, and improving the ability to prosecute traffickers.  Lead Sponsors:  Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Mark Chang.

Human Trafficking – Motion to Vacate – SB869/HB1267 – Died in Committee     

Expanding the types of crimes that may be vacated because the defendant committed the crime as a result of being a victim of human trafficking.  Amendments are needed to prevent vacatur of crimes such as production of child pornography and sexual abuse of a minor over the age of 12.  Lead Sponsors:  Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Kathleen Dumais.

Earned Safe & Sick Leave – Veto Overidden 

This bill would create a limited right for employees who are survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking to take earned, paid time off to address issues related to the violence.  It would create a similar limited right for paid sick time.  This bill was vetoed by Governor Hogan in 2017 and the General Assembly overrode the veto this session.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Luke Clippinger and Senator Mac Middleton.

Local Sexual Assault Investigation – Audits – HB520/HB178  – Died in Judicial Proceedings Committee.     

Permitting local government to have audits of sexual assault investigations by sexual assault victim services programs; requiring audits when the locality reaches a threshold number of unfounded sexual assault cases; imposing confidentiality requirements on audits.  Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Pam Queen and Senator Victor Ramirez.

Permanent Protective Orders – SB491/HB1303-PASSED

Expanding the availability of permanent protective orders. Lead Sponsors:  Delegate Vanessa Atterbury and Senator Delores Kelley

Protective Orders – Definition of Abuse – Revenge Porn – SB121/HB328-PASSED 

Adding the following to the definition of abuse providing the basis for a protective order:  misuse of telephone facilities and equipment, misuse of electronic communication or interactive computer service, revenge porn, and visual surveillance.  This passed in an amended form adding only revenge porn.  Lead Sponsors: Senator Bobby Zirkin and Delegate Kathleen Dumais.

Sextortion and Revenge Porn – SB769-PASSED

Creating the crime of sextortion (causing sexual activity or creation of sexual images by threat) and updating Maryland’s revenge porn statute.  This will provide prosecutors with a significant and helpful new tool to respond to sexual coercion.  Lead Sponsor:  Senator Bobby Zirkin.

Indirect Costs – SB1045-PASSED

Requiring that state grants pay for indirect costs when a grant is awarded.  Current practices force non-profit agencies to subsidize government expenditures.  Indirect costs such as rent for common areas like hallways and general administration are necessary to provide victim services. Lead Sponsor: Senator Cheryl Kagan.

Body Cameras and Protection for Victims of Sexual Assault – SB788/HB1638 – Died in Committee; Withdrawn in House.  

Amending the Public Information Act and providing protections for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse whose images are collected on body cameras and drones used by law enforcement.  Lead Sponsors:  Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Charles Sydnor.

Sexual Exploitation and Law Enforcement – HB1292-PASSED

This bill will have sponsor amendments that will make it a crime for law enforcement officers to have sex with a person involved in a criminal investigation, in their custody, or who has requested their help.  Lead Sponsor:  Delegate Brooke Lierman.

Pre- and Post-trial Stay Away Orders – Criminal Penalties for Violations – SB170/HB388-PASSED  

Currently, a defendant who violates an order to stay away from a victim pending trial or sentencing does not face criminal penalties unless the case involves sex crimes against a minor.  This bill will expand criminal penalties to also include all crimes violence, and crimes against “persons eligible for relief” under the Protective Order statute.  This bill had a “dream team” of leaders on women’s rights, Delegate Aruna Miller and Senator Susan Lee. 

 

To view the final 2018 Legislative Priorities, click here

To view the final 2017 Legislative Priorities, click here

To view 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.