2017 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. MCASA responds to policy questions and legislative initiatives throughout Maryland’s legislative session (January-April).
Click here to receive the latest updates about MCASA’s 2017 legislative priorities and other bills.
Funding for Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors – SB734/HB1209
One of MCASA’s top priorities is to expand funding for rape crisis centers and meet increasing needs for resources for victims of child sexual abuse and sexual assault across the lifespan and across the justice system. Increased attention and awareness about college sexual assault, human sex trafficking, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, child sexual abuse, and sexual assault in general have led to increased demand for services. The recent Attorney General’s Report on Sexual Assault Evidence Kits also highlights the need for resources for access to justice. These bills create dedicated funding for rape crisis centers, an oversight committee to address evidence collection, and resources for the Attorney General’s office. Sponsors: Senator Ed Kasemeyer and Delegate Aruna Miller.
Rape Survivor Family Protection Act- (SB574/HB428)
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: Delegate Kathleen Dumais and Senators Brian Feldman and Susan Lee.
Rape and Physical Resistance (SB217/HB429)
This bill clarifies and modernizes Maryland’s sexual assault statutes by making it clear that rape victims are not required to physically resist sexual assault. Lead Sponsors: Delegate Kathleen Dumais and Senator Delores Kelley.
Past Bad Acts – HB369/SB316 – Support with Amendment
This bill expands admissibility of prior acts of sexual abuse or sexual assault in later sex crimes cases. As introduced, this bill is missing a key provision needed to make it effective and MCASA will advocate for the needed amendment. Lead Sponsor: Administration
Expanding Statute of Limitations in Civil Child Sexual Abuse Cases – SB505, 585/HB641, 642 – Support with Amendments
These bills expand the time period for a survivor of child sexual abuse to file for civil damages against a perpetrator; additional limitations are placed on cases against others responsible, such as schools or religious institutions. Technical amendments are needed. Lead Sponsors: Senator Delores Kelley, Senator Ron Young, and Delegate CT Wilson
Certification of Victim Helpfulness – U Visas — SB616/HB1208
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
Earned Safe & Sick Leave – HB1/SB230
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. Lead Sponsors: Delegate Luke Clippinger and Senator Mac Middleton
Trafficking Victims & Petty Crimes – SB480/HB502
This bill would give courts the authority to vacate convictions for petty crimes that were committed as a result of being a victim of human trafficking. Current law limits vacating convictions to prostitution charges. Lead Sponsors: Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Kathleen Dumais.
Trafficking – Child Protective Services – HB632/SB308
Clarifying that child sexual abuse includes all sex trafficking of minors without regard to whether the child is in the abuser’s custody or supervision. Lead Sponsor: Administration
HIV and HepC Testing for Rape Survivors
This bill creates a process for emergency testing of suspects in rape cases so that victims can take advantage of n-PEP medication to prevent HIV. Testing provisions are also expanded to cover testing for HepC. Lead Sponsors: Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Susie Proctor.
Permanent Protective Orders – HB1057
This is a technical bill to permit the court to issue a permanent protective order when an act of abuse is committed while an order is already in place and the respondent has been sentenced to serve at least 5 years for an act of abuse; it would also add kidnapping to the list of qualifying crimes. Lead Sponsor: Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary
Rape Kit Retention and Survivor Notification – HB255/SB349
This bill will require retention of sexual assault evidence kits for at least twenty years and to provide survivors with notice regarding kit retention and destruction. Lead Sponsor: Delegate Shelly Hettleman and Senator Bobby Zirkin
Audits of Unfounded Sexual Assault Reports – HB260 /SB780
Mandating audits of unfounded sexual assault cases when a jurisdiction’s rate of unfounded cases exceeds the national average by 5% or more. Audit would be performed by sexual assault programs. Lead Sponsors: Delegate Pam Queen and Senator Susan Lee
Rape Kits – Testing and Tracking – HB1076 (testing) and HB1141 (tracking)
These two bills address the testing and tracking of sexual assault evidence collection kits (often called rape kits). MCASA supports policies to increase kit testing and to implement the recommendations of the Attorney General report on Statewide Accounting on Sexual Assault Evidence Kits in Maryland (2017). We appreciate that the Attorney General’s recommendations are included in HB1076. We also appreciate efforts to track kits and support increasing information available to survivors about kit status. These specific bills are likely to have amendments to their language and will need fiscal action to be effective. We note that SB734/HB1209 includes an oversight committee to address these issues. Lead Sponsors: Delegate Shelly Hettleman and Delegate Karen Young.
Maryland Legal Services Corporation Funding – HB972/SB811 and HB1291/SB856
Continuing and increasing funding for legal services. Several sexual assault and domestic violence programs receive MLSC funding to help survivors, including the Sexual Assault Legal Institute, HopeWorks, Heartly House, Life Crisis Center, CASA of Washington County, and SARC in Harford County. Lead Sponsors: Senator Bobby Zirkin and Delegate Kathleen Dumais; Senator Guy Guzzone and Delegate Ben Barnes.
Consent Education – HB365
Including education about consent in middle and high school health curricula. This bill was introduced as a local Montgomery County bill, but a statewide version is expected. Lead Sponsor: Delegate Ariana Kelly.
Classification of Rape – HB647/SB944
Maryland law classifies “rape” as vaginal-penile intercourse. Anal rape, oral rape, and rape with an object are all classified as “sexual offenses”. This is disrespectful and insensitive to many sexual assault survivors, resulting in survivors being told that they were “not raped”. Additionally, the current definition is out of sync with the definition used by the FBI in Uniform Crime Reports. This bill would classify all rape as rape. Lead Sponsors: Delegate Kirill Reznik and Senator Will Smith
To view this document in PDF form, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-328-7023.
Together we can improve Maryland’s response to survivors,
help bring offenders to justice, and end sexual violence.