With less than a month left to go in this year’s legislative session, both chambers of the Maryland legislature are still working their way through several key pieces of legislation as their final deadline draws near.
Here is an update thus far on a select number of a few state bills:
The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act
Sponsored by Delegate Kathleen Dumais, this was among the first bills to come out of the legislature to be signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) this year. The new law allows a court to terminate a person’s parental rights if there is clear and convincing evidence their child was conceived through a rape. The bill was made a priority for House and Senate leadership, after it failed to pass due to the time running out in the legislative session, becoming an embarrassment for state legislators.
The Supporting All Families Everywhere (SAFE) Act
Montgomery County’s Delegate Ana Sol-Gutierrez (D), who sponsored this bill, says this is some Democrats’ attempt to counteract President Trump’s directives for stepped-up immigration enforcement. If passed, it would make Maryland a “sanctuary state” by prohibiting state and local officials from participating in the enforcement of federal immigration law. Several major jurisdictions across the nation – including San Francisco, New York City, Seattle and Washington D.C. – are often derided as “sanctuary cities” for having similar policies. The label refers to a loose connection of polices that prohibit local law enforcement from participating in immigration law, though specific policy differs from city to city. While the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on the bill Tuesday, it is still waiting a vote in the House.
Comprehensive Crime Bill of 2018
Sponsored by Baltimore County Senator Bobby A. Zirkin, this bill would increase sentences for repeat offenders – particularly those who commit gun crimes – as well as increase funding for several crime prevention programs. The Senate passed the bill Monday 36-8, and it is likely that Gov. Hogan will sign it should it pass the House of Delegates, where it still awaits a vote.
Patients’ Bill of Rights
Although Maryland already has a Patients’ Bill of Rights on the books, this bill – which passed the Senate Friday and awaits a vote in the House – would requires hospitals to make copies of the existing Patients’ Bill of Rights available and visible throughout the hospital to all patients. The legislation is a response to an recent incident when a Baltimore hospital “dumped” a patient, releasing her from the hospital still in her gown with no place to go. It would also prohibit hospitals from discharging patients without providing them adequate information on other available places to continue medical treatment.
Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act
Sponsored by Montgomery County’s Delegate Marc Korman, this legislation would direct funds from the state’s Transportation Trust Fund – at least $150 million annually – to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration, provided that Virginia and D.C. make similar commitments. The bill passed the House of Delegates and has received support from Hogan, needing only approval from the Senate to pass.
House Bill 953/ Senate Bill 456 (minimum age for sale of tobacco products)
These crossed filed bills – sponsored by Baltimore County’s Delores G. Kelly in the Senate and Montgomery County’s Marice Morales in the House of Delegates – would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the state from 18 to 21. While both chambers have conducted committee hearings on the bills, neither has received a floor vote in either chamber.