Each year, House of Ruth Maryland carefully monitors the Maryland General Assembly to support legislation that helps victims of intimate partner violence and oppose legislation that could be detrimental to the women and children we serve. We’ll be updating this page as legislation begins moving and as the status changes.
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The Maryland General Assembly ended on April 10th and we are happy to report that HB 294/SB 224, our lead bill, which clarifies that a defendant who receives probation before judgment for a domestically related 2nd degree assault would be disqualified from possessing a firearm, PASSED!! In addition, several of our other important bills also passed. See below for a description.
We want to take a minute to thank Delegate Kathleen Dumais, vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and lead sponsor of our bills. We could not accomplish what we do in the legislature without Delegate Dumais. She is a true fighter for women’s rights. We also thank Senator Susan Lee, our senate lead sponsor. Senator Lee fought hard to make sure our bill passed in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. In addition, we thank Senator Victor Ramirez who is always willing to sponsor our important domestic violence bills. And a special thank you tok Senator Bobby Zirkin who was finally able to move HB 294 in the waning hours of the legislative session. Finally, we thank our lobbyists Sean Malone, Lisa Harris Jones, and Philip Cronin of Harris Jones and Malone who provide countless hours of work and support towards our legislative effort.
HB 294/SB 224 – Public Safety – Regulated Firearms – Definition of Convicted of a Disqualifying Crime – This bill is a recommendation from the Governor’s Family Violence Council workgroup on firearm removal implementation. It clarifies existing law so that a defendant who receives probation before judgment for a domestically related 2nd degree assault will now be disqualified from possessing a firearm. PASSED
HB 293/SB 274 – Family Law – Divorce- Domestic Violence Order – This bill repeals a provision of the law that states that a protective order is inadmissible as evidence in a divorce proceeding. PASSED
HB 972/SB 811 – Civil Cases – Maryland Legal Services Corporation Fund – Surcharges – Repeal of Termination Date – In 2010, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill that raised the cost to file a civil case in court with the additional money going to fund legal services for the poor, including the House of Ruth Legal Clinic. That law had a sunset provision. In 2013, the General Assembly reset the sunset provision for 5 years. This year, the General Assembly removed the sunset provision. PASSED
HB 1291/SB 856 – Maryland Legal Services Corporation Abandon Property Fund – In addition to the filing fee surcharge described above, MLSC also receives an allotment from Maryland’s abandon property fund. This year the General Assembly increased MLSC’s allotment from the abandon property fund by $500,000. PASSED
(Amber’s Law)HB 1163/SB 976 – Criminal Procedure – Conditional Release – Electronic Monitoring – This bill was significantly amended by the General Assembly. It now allows a victim to request that the court to order a defendant be supervised by means of electronic monitoring and gives victims the opportunity to request reasonable protections for their safety. PASSED
OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST
HB 1/SB 230 – Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act – This bill requires employers that employ 15 or more employees to provide employees with earned sick and safe leave that is paid at the same wage rate as the employee normally earns; requires employers with 14 or fewer employees to provide an employee with unpaid earned sick and safe leave; and provides for the manner in which earned sick and safe leave is accrued. PASSED
HB 498/SB 562 – Health Care Decisions Act – Advance Directives and Surrogate Decision Making – Disqualified Individuals – This bill prohibits a respondent in a protective order and people who have a separation agreement or are divorced from serving as a health care agent. I have a personal conflict with this bill and am happy to refer interested parties to the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence for further information. PASSED
HB 255/SB 349 – Criminal Procedure – Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights – Disposal of Rape Kit Evidence and Notification – This bill would forbid law enforcement agencies, government agencies, and health care providers from destroying rape kits for at least 20 years. PASSED
HB 429/SB 217 – Criminal Law – Sexual Offenses – Physical Resistance – This bill would clarify that evidence of physical resistance by the victim is not required to prove that a sexual offense occurred. PASSED