Maryland Children’s Alliance – Legislative Session 2012 updateBy
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.