2021-2022 Legislative Priorities - Preliminary
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. MCASA responds to policy questions and legislative initiatives throughout Maryland's legislative session (January-April).
The 2021 legislative session will have tremendous challenges as the General Assembly strives to keep members, staff, and the public safe from COVID-19, and works to address the budgetary fall-out from the pandemic as well as the long overdue opportunities for meaningful reforms to address racial injustice. MCASA believes that sexual violence will not end until racism, sexism, and oppression end, and we support efforts to create meaningful change. In light of the unique circumstances, MCASA will be focusing most efforts on a limited number of issues this session. We will continue to voice our views on other issues important to sexual assault survivors, but fully appreciate that some of these bills may be best considered in 2022.
MCASA’s 2021 Legislative Priorities are:
Rape Crisis Center Funding
MCASA supports full funding of rape crisis center services and monitors the budget process and individual funding bills. We are deeply concerned that the Hogan administration maintain full funding for current programs and avoid pitting victim services groups against one another during the COVID crisis. Sexual assault survivors report their trauma is amplified by quarantines, economic pressures, and fears for the future. Programs are stretched ever thinner as they try to do more and more and are faced with increasing bureaucracy that diminish resources. It is critical that we maintain support for the core services that sexual assault survivors need.
Maryland Legal Services Corporation Funding
The Maryland Legal Services Corporation, the state’s largest funder of civil legal aid, announced a critical funding situation for the coming fiscal year. These grants support legal services at non-profits, including those helping victims of sexual assault and domestic violence across Maryland. These include the Sexual Assault Legal Institute (SALI) serving adults and children statewide, the Life Crisis Center on the Lower Eastern Shore, the Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy, Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused in Washington County, Heartly House in Frederick, HopeWorks in Howard, Sexual Assault/Spousal Abuse Resource Center (SARC) in Harford County, and others. Together, these programs provide legal services for over 7500 victims and survivors annually. MCASA anticipates supporting several efforts to restore legal services funding.
Marriage Should Not Be a Defense to Sex Crimes – Love is No Defense Act – HB147/SB250
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 last session were a bleak reminder that there is still much work to be done. We will be back to fight for this important legal principle in 2021. Lead sponsors: Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield and Senator Susan Lee.
Prohibition on Sexual Activity by Law Enforcement During the Course of Investigations or Assistance – Police Reform – HB411/SB43
Current law prohibits law enforcement from sexual activity with people in custody or who are incarcerated. This bill will extend this prohibition to include sexual activity with someone law enforcement is investigating or assisting. MCASA views this as an important piece of police reform. Women of color and poor women face exploitation and higher rates of mistreatment by law enforcement, and it is critical that reform efforts include ending racism experienced by victims. Lead sponsors: Delegate Nicole Williams and Senator Sarah Elfreth.
Additional Priorities – MCASA advocates for the following policies as important advances for survivors of sexual assault to be addressed in the 2021 or 2022 Session.
Sexting – HB180, HB382, HB149
Legislation is needed to address the 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 Luke Clippinger, Delegate CT Wilson.
Workplace Violence – Peace Orders – HB289/SB105
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, to develop language to ensure employees will not face retaliation if they refused to participate in the proceedings. Lead Sponsors: Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary and Senator Charles Sydnor.
Name Changes – Prohibition of Publishing – HB39
A bill to eliminate publication of name change requests upon motion of a party. MCASA has handled several name changes for children of sex offenders, and for survivors of domestic violence and their children. Lead sponsor: Delegate Emily Shetty.
On-line Child Abuse Prevention Training – HB9
A bill to require the Department of Human Services to post an on-line training on child abuse prevention. Last session, this bill passed the House but was not considered by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee as a result of the early sine die. In the midst of the pandemic and related restrictions, the need for online training is even greater. Lead sponsor: Delegate Emily Shetty.
Person in Position of Authority – HB223
A bill to help close the remaining loophole in Maryland’s laws regarding persons in authority who sexually exploit children they have authority over. Statutory rape provisions protect younger children, child sexual abuse laws protect children during the time a child is actually in an adult’s care or supervision, certain school employees are always prohibited from having sex with their students, and new laws on sextortion provide the ability to prosecute those using threats of emotional distress to coerce sexual activity. However, the law still has gaps that fail to protect teenagers from sexual exploitation by extra-curricular activity instructors, scout masters, school volunteers, and other adults in authority. This bill closes these remaining gaps, so that all teens are protected. Lead sponsor: Delegate Sara Love.
Survivors Seeking Criminal Justice – Explanation of Decision Not to Prosecute – HB270
Few sexual assault survivors seek help through the criminal justice system. When they do, State’s Attorneys Offices do not always prosecute. This bill requires that, at the request of the victim, the prosecutor provide an explanation of this decision. Lead sponsor: Delegate Karen Lewis Young.
Report of Crime Against a Person, including Sex Crimes – HB193
This bill requires law enforcement to provide crime victims with a private room to report a crime against a person, including a report of a sex crime. Lead sponsor: Delegate Michele Guyton.
Statute of Limitations – Civil Child Sexual Abuse – HB263/SB134
This bill will expand or eliminate the statute of limitations in civil suits based on child sexual abuse. Lead sponsors: Delegate CT Wilson and Senator Shelly Hettleman.
Charitable Immunity – Sexual Assault – HB55
A bill to eliminate charitable immunity in cases involving sexual assault and abuse. Sponsor amendments were proposed to clarify and improve language. Lead sponsor: Delegate Brian Crosby.
For a PDF version of MCASA's 2021-2022 Legislative Priorities, click here.
Click here to sign up for Legislative E-lerts to learn more about how you can help end sexual violence in Maryland.
To view a PDF of the laws passed in 2020, 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 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. Our most up-to-date agenda can be accessed on our website here.
Together we can improve Maryland’s response to survivors, help bring offenders to justice, and end sexual violence.