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.  To help achieve this effort, we are asking all supporters to actively advocate for these bills.

To learn who your elected officials in Maryland are, go to www.mdelect.net.

The following is a list of the bills we are monitoring:

HB 1646/SB 1036- Criminal Procedure – Firearms – Transfer – This bill would require the State’s Attorney’s office to notify a defendant if s/he is charged with a domestically related, disqualifying crime and that, if convicted, s/he would be prohibited from possessing a firearm.  It also requires the defendant to file a copy of proof of transfer of the firearm with either the court or the State’s Attorney.  The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee amended and reported favorably.  The House Judiciary Committee amended and reported favorably. 

Criminal Violation of Pre and Post-Trial Release – This bill would make violation of a pretrial no contact order a crime.  If a person is arrested and released pretrial, very often the court sets special conditions of release for the defendant.  A common special condition is to have no contact with the victim.  Under current law, if the defendant violates a pretrial special condition, it is not a crime.  The only the remedy is for the state’s attorney to file to revoke the release condition.  By making violation of release conditions a separate crime, it would enable law enforcement to arrest a defendant for violating his/her conditions of release, including to stay away from the victim.  This change would add an important means of protection for victims of domestic violence and other crime victims. Passed in the Senate on a vote of 45 – 0.  Passed in the House on a vote of 136 – 0.

Family Law – Domestic Violence – Permanent Final Protective Orders – Under the current law, in order to be eligible for a permanent protective order the respondent must be convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of at least 5 years, the crime must be one of a list of enumerated crimes, and the respondent must have served at least 12 months of the sentence.  In addition, the current statute requires that the crime must be the act of abuse that led to the issuance of the final protective order.  This bill would expand the current permanent protective order statute to include any crime, not just one of the enumerated crimes, and apply even if the crime was not the act of abuse that led to the issuance of the final protective order. Passed in the Senate on a vote of 46 – 0.  Hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on March 1.

 Secretary of State – Address Confidentiality Programs – Shielding of Real Property Records – In 2016, the General Assembly passed a bill creating a Task Force to study and make recommendations about how to protect the identity and address of a participant in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) when recording a deed transferring real property to an ACP participant.  This bill would amend the ACP statute and create a system for recording deeds and protecting the confidentiality of an ACP participant’s address. Passed in the House on a vote of 136 – 0.  Favorable with amendments report by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Family Law – Domestic Violence – Definition of Abuse – This bill would expand the way abuse is defined in the protective order statute to include misuse of telephone facilities, misuse of electronic communication, revenge porn, and visual surveillance.  The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee amended the bill and reported favorably.  Hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on February 1.

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.  This bill was vetoed by the Governor and the General Assembly is going to try to override the veto.   

SEXUAL ASSAULT BILLS

HB 1/SB 2 Family Law – Child Conceived Without Consent – Termination of Parental Rights (Rape Survivor Family Protection Act) – This bill authorizes a court, under certain circumstances, to terminate the parental rights of an individual convicted of or found to have committed an act of nonconsensual sexual conduct against the other parent that resulted in the conception of a child. All of the presiding officers have made this bill a priority this year.  Hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on January 11.

Courts – Evidence of Sexually Assaultive Behavior – Admissibility (The Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act of 2017) – Provides that, in a prosecution for certain specified sexual offenses, evidence of other sexually assaultive behavior by the defendant occurring before or after the offense for which the defendant is on trial may be admissible.