Archive for Legislative Issues
The following was received by the Director of the CAC from the Maryland Children’s Alliance Legislative Counsel.
The 2012 regular legislative session ended last night at midnight. Two of MCA’s top priorities are on the Governor’s desk and waiting for his signature. With your help, and after five years of advocacy, Justice’s Law passed the General Assembly. (HB604/SB521). This bill increases the penalties for child abuse resulting in death from 30 to 40 years and adds household members and family members to the list of those who can be prosecuted under this statute. Justice’s Law has been a long-time priority for the Maryland’s Children’s Alliance. Senator Chris Shank originally filed the bill in response to deaths in his community and the families of the victims have come to Annapolis every year to testify. Senator Shank and Delegate Parrott spoke with the families and they were very grateful the bill passed and will give prosecutors another tool to use in these cases. MCA appreciates their efforts as well.
The bill to increase the statute of limitations for prosecution of first-time possession of child pornography also passed. (HB349/SB889) This bill was prompted by requests from law enforcement who encounter child porn stored on everything from phones to X-boxes, and need additional time to break passwords and other security. I visited the Montgomery County CAC last year and especially appreciated the stories they told to illustrate the problem. SB889/HB349 originally proposed expanding the statute of limitations from one year to three, but was amended down to two years by the House Judiciary Committee. It will still provide real and practical help in these cases
There were nine bills introduced to address failure to report child abuse, none of which passed. Options proposed included civil penalties, criminal penalties, training for educators, and combinations of all three. MCA was involved in discussions about these bills, including one proposal that made it out of the Senate. This happened too late in the session to give the bill a realistic chance on the House side, but many of those involved are committed to continuing discussions.
As some of you probably know, the Governor is expected to call a special session to finish up on budget and revenue issues. MCA provided testimony in support of continued CAC support and this issue continues to be one of MCA’s top priorities. As things stand there continues to be an allocation for the CAC grants established by this administration. Until the special session is completed, however, this is not final.
MCA’s other legislative priorities are on the chart below. If you would like more detail or to look at the language of the bills, the General Assembly website is located at www.mlis.state.md.us. As always, please let me know your thoughts and questions about bills and the session.
At our recent board meeting, the director of the Frederick County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) distributed information from the Legislative Counsel for Maryland Children’s Alliance (MCA). The following is an excerpt from that information:
” MCA continues to be active and present in Annapolis. MCA took a leading role on the bill to expand the statute of limitations for possession of child porn and presented testimony before the House Judiciary and Senate Judicial Proceedings committee. Both bills are waiting for a vote. Please take the time to call or email members of the committees to tell them you support these bills.
In addition to our work on the child porn bill, MCA also submitted testimony:
- in support of continued CAC funding
- in support of a bill to increase court fees and funds for MVOC (CACs are a priority for these funds)
- in support of a bill to require defendants who plead nolo or receive a PBJ to pay court fees: these fees help support MVOC (CACs are a priority for MVOC)
We have been involved in negotiations regarding Justice’s Law, a priority of MCA for several years. This bill would increase penalties for offenders who kill a child while abusing them. Hearings are set for March 8, 2012.
MCA continues to monitor and participate in discussions about the several bills to impose penalties on people who do not report child abuse. Just as there is a range of views within MCA, there is a range of views within the other professional communities who work with children. … Hearings on these bills continue over the next couple of weeks. Senator Raskin and Delegate Dumais have introduced legislation to require the State Department of Education to develop training on child sexual abuse prevention and then for the counties to provide mandatory training to all school employees, with additional training for parents guardians, and volunteers, and information in handbooks and websites. The bill has a number of challenges, but certain the concept of prevention training is a good one and may be something the legislature is receptive to this session.”
The website for the General Assembly is www.mlis.state.md.us. Please contact your senators and delegates to show your support for the following issues/bills:
- HB349/SB889: Child Porn – expand statute of limitations. Currently there is a 1 year time limit for forensic examination of electronic data systems (computers, iPods, smart phones, etc). It takes much longer to go through all of the electronic data which has resulted in some accused offenders being released without prosecution. Please call members of the Judiciary and Judicial Proceedings Committee with your support.
- HB63, SB140, HB999, HB1067 – Mandatory Reporting/ HB1102/SB626 – Civil Penalty . This is in response to the Penn State scandal. Discussions are ongoing, but hearings are scheduled, but yet to be held. MCA supports civil penalties and has not stand on criminal penalties.
- Budget bills – In this economic climate, funding for CACs is on the cutting block. Contact your delegates and senators to request to keep the current funding.
- HB18 – Caylee’s Law #1. MCA is monitoring this proposed law, in the House Judiciary Committee, that requires parent/person with care, custody, or supervision of a child to report the child as missing within 3 hours if the child is under 9 or within 12 hours if over 8.
- HB20 – Caylee’s Law #2. MCA is monitoring this proposed law, in the House Judiciary Committee, that requires parent/person with care, custody, or supervision of a child to report a child as missing within 24 hours if the child is under 13 and within 48 hours if the child is over 13. It also requires reporting of the death of a child within 2 hours.
- HB543 – Mediation. MCA is monitoring the proposed law, in the House Judiciary Committee, which would allow mediation of misdemeanor cases in certain circumstances. It provides an exception for cases of domestic violence. The sponsor of the bill is open to adding sexual violence to the list of exceptions from mediation. It is unclear how domestic violence will be defined in the bill.