Our Pledge to Maryland Women and Progress Report Update

In March, 1996, following the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, Women Legislators of Maryland adopted the Pledge to Maryland Women. Since that time we have worked hard fulfilling our pledge. The Pledge promised, in part, to end poverty, provide high-quality, affordable health care, and to end violence against women. By successfully gaining leadership positions in the House and Senate, as well as increasing the total number of women legislators in Maryland, we have made substantial progress in our Pledge and to the issues vital to the women of Maryland.

Please read our Original Pledge to Maryland Women

Ending Poverty

1998 - passed the Earned Income Tax Credit which provides additional tax relief to low income wage earners-assisted in protecting women through welfare reform by providing appropriate safety nets

1999 - passed income tax credit for dependent care and after-school opportunity expenses

2002 - passed SB 53/HB 530 to increase the earned income disregard for Temporary Cash Assistance recipients who obtain unsubsidized employment from 35 to 40 percent of earned income, contingent on the availability of federal funds.

2011 - passed SB 132/HB 87 the Job Applicant Fairness Act limiting an employer’s ability to use an individual’s credit report or credit history to deny employment to a job applicant, discharge an employee, or determine a job applicant’s or employee’s compensation or terms of employment.

2012 – passed SB 778/HB 997 Commercial Law – Rental-Purchase Agreements Best Practices Act (See 2012 Legislative Wrap-Up under Accomplishments.)

2013 – passed SB 589/HB 334 Commercial Law – Consumer Protection – Rental Purchase Transaction (See 2013 Legislative Wrap-Up)

High Quality, Affordable Health Care

1996 - passed legislation providing State funding for alcohol and drug abuse treatment for prison inmates

1997 - passed Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Education Act-passed bill to establish Project Life, on the U.S.S. Sanctuary, a residential educational facility for women with chemical dependencies

1998 - passed bill to establish Breast Cancer Screening Program
- passed bill making female genital mutilation a felony
- passed bill forcing insurance carriers to cover prescription contraceptive drugs or devices
- passed bill to add dental services as a benefit for Medicaid enrollees
- supported anti-smoking legislation

1999 - passed legislation to require health care coverage for annual chlamydia screening
- passed Patient's Bill of Rights Act of 1999
- passed universal newborn hearing screening

2000 - passed HB 7, a House leadership initiative, to integrate State child welfare and substance abuse treatment services in order to provide coordinated services, efficient funding streams, improved access, and system-wise accountability.
- passed HB 2, Maryland Health Programs Expansion Act of 2000. This bill expands health insurance coverage based on family income to an estimated additional 19,000 children, as well as provide coverage to other categories of individuals such as indigents, pregnant women, and immigrants and their children who meet the specified requirements.
- passed SB 386/HB 22, as passed, would provide for a health insurance benefit up to $350 for hair prostheses prescribed due to hair loss attributed to cancer treatment
- direct access to nurse midwives, SB 567/HB 669

2001 - passed SB 481/HB 254 requiring the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) to provide reconstructive surgery services to a Breast Cancer Program participant who has undergone a mastectomy. The program is required to cover prostheses and any physical complications related to the mastectomy.

2002 - passed SB 22/HB 532 establishing a 16-member Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Task Force
- passed SB 3/HB 602 Maryland Safe Haven Act, providing immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability for a person who leaves an unharmed newborn with a responsible adult within three days after the birth of the newborn

2004 - passed SB 499/HB 1067 to establish a Cervical Cancer Committee of the Maryland Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan to: (1) collaborate with DHMH and the State Council on Cancer Control to promote public awareness on the causes, nature, detection, treatment, and prevention of cervical cancer; (2) identify and examine the limitations of existing programs with respect to cervical cancer awareness and the availability of health insurance coverage and public services for cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment; (3) develop a statewide Cervical Cancer Prevention Plan; and (4) facilitate coordination and communication among State and local agencies and organizations to achieve the plan’s goals. The Committee will terminate in five years.

2006 - passed HB 89 Maryland Medical Assistance Program - Legal Immigrants - Pregnant Women and Children which requires the Governor to include in the budget bill for FY 2008 at least $3 million in general funds for an immigrant health initiative to provide health care services for all legal immigrant children under the age of 18 and pregnant women who meet program eligibility standards and arrived in the U.S. on or after August 22, 1996.

2008 - passed bills requiring a health care provider to inform a pregnant individual that an HIV test will be administered and advise the individual that the individual may refuse without penalty - if the individual declines, it must be documented in her medical record. The bills also specify additional testing requirements as well as referral requirements for women who test positive.
- passed bill requiring the Comptroller to send taxpayers with a dependent child and income less than the highest eligibility standard for Medicaid or MCHP a notice, developed by DHMH that their dependent child may be eligible for Medicaid or MCHP.

2009 – passed bill altering the health insurance mandate regarding coverage of mammograms in accordance with the American Cancer Society’s guidelines (see HB 405 in 2009 Legislative Wrap-Up)

2010 – passed bills altering the scope of practice for nurse practitioners. (See 2010 Legislative Wrap-Up)

2011 –passed SB 743/HB 778 The Family Planning Works Act requiring Medicaid, beginning on January 1, 2012, to provide family planning services to all women whose family income is at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines without regard to how recently a woman has delivered a child.
- passed SB 556/HB 1150 requiring Mental Hygiene Administration to develop and implement a plan (including a three-year pilot program) to secure the sleeping quarters of male and female patients at all State mental health facilities. The bills also establish training and reporting requirements related to sexual abuse and sexual harassment.

2012 – passed SB 179/HB 243 Kathleen A. Mathias Chemotherapy Parity Act of 2012 prohibiting health insurance carriers that provide coverage for cancer chemotherapy from imposing cost-sharing requirements on coverage for orally administered chemotherapy that are less favorable to an insured or enrollee than the cost-sharing requirements that apply to coverage for chemotherapy that is administered intravenously or by injection.

2013 – Passed SB 679/HB 690 which codified the Virginia I. Jones Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Council established by executive order in 2011. Among other tasks, the council is charged with the development and monitoring of the 2012 Maryland State Plan on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders and improving access to and coordination of services to individuals with Alzheimer’s and their families and caregivers.

Passed HB 931/SB 496 requiring the Medicaid program, under certain circumstances, to reimburse a health care provider for health care services delivered by telemedicine.

Passed HB 312/SB 334 requiring mammography providers to include in a screening results letter that is sent to the patient, a specified notice regarding breast density.

Passed HB 303 which establishes a Task Force to Study Point-of-Care Testing for Lead Poisoning to screen and identify children with elevated blood-lead levels.

Passed HB 934/SB 776 establishing a Task Force on the Use of Telehealth to Improve Maryland Health Care. (See 2013 Legislative Wrap-Up)

2014 – HB 963 Requirements for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations and Reporting

2015 - Passed HB 9 Maryland Licensure of Direct-Entry Midwives Act
(See 2015 Legislative Wrap-Up)

2016 - The Women’s Caucus supported ten bills, two passed or 20%.
(See 2016 Legislative Wrap-Up)

Ending Violence Against Women

1997 - passed bill to provide longer duration for civil protective orders

1998 - passed bill to eliminate the one-year waiting period for a divorce for victims of domestic violence
- passed bill to increase the maximum penalty against a person convicted of failing to comply with a domestic violence order

1999 - passed bill to provide protection for people in an abusive dating relationship
- passed bill to require confiscation of firearms in certain domestic violence situations
- passed bill prohibiting a District Court commissioner from authorizing the pretrial release of a defendant charged with violating specified provisions of an ex parte order or protective order
- passed bill authorizing a judge to order the respondent in a petition for a temporary ex parte order or protective order to remain away from any place providing child care to a minor child of a person eligible for relief

2001 - passed SB 481/HB 254, which provides that a law enforcement officer enforcing an out-of-state order for protection, in accordance with statutory provisions, shall be immune from civil liability if the officer acts in good faith and in a reasonable manner

2002 - passed SB 501/HB 663, better known as the "24/7" bill that expands the authority of District Court commissioners to include the issuance of interim peace orders and interim domestic violence orders. A petition for relief from domestic violence may be filed with a District court commissioner if neither the office of the District Court clerk nor the office of the clerk of the Circuit Court is open for business. This is a proposed constitutional amendment to be submitted to the voters of the State in the 2002 general election. SB 501/HB 663 are contingent on the ratification of HB 6 by the voters of Maryland. The passage of these bills would afford victims of domestic violence access to protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

2003 - passed SB 352/HB 593, expanding the elements of the crime of stalking beyond requiring the intent of placing a victim in fear to include reasonable knowledge that one's actions would place the victim in fear. The bills also redefine the definition of stalking.
- SB 453/HB 196 - laws known as "rape shield laws" exist in all 50 states to limit the evidentiary use of a victim's prior sexual history as a way of undermining the victim's credibility. These bills prohibit the introduction of evidence relating to a victim's reputation for chastity or abstinence, and opinion evidence relating to a sexual offense, sodomy, incest, sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult, or unnatural or perverted sexual practice. The bills also expand the list of offenses, to cover all of the preceding, for which evidence of a specific instance of prior sexual conduct may be admitted upon a finding that the evidence is relevant, material, not overly prejudicial, and meets other specified criteria.

2004 - passed HB 1148 which applies the criminal penalties for noncompliance with the relief granted in a final protective order to a respondent who fails to surrender any firearms in the respondent’s possession to a law enforcement agency.
- passed HB 923 to provide that a person may be prosecuted for first degree rape, second degree rape, or third degree sexual offense against the person’s legal spouse if the person in committing the crime uses force or threat of force and the act is without the consent of the spouse.

2005 - passed HB 944 which set time limits relating to HIV testing of persons charged with crimes or delinquent acts that may have caused or resulted in the exposure of another to HIV.
- SB 107 and HB 895 passed to prohibit a court from placing a defendant on probation before judgment for enumerated sexual abuse charges if the victim is under the age of 16.

2007 - passed SB 606/HB 876 to prohibit human trafficking, a modern day form of slavery and a growing, lucrative enterprise in the world economy today.

2008 - passed bills requiring a court to issue a new final protective order which would be permanent.
- passed bills to authorize a judge who awards temporary custody of a minor child in a final protective order to order a law enforcement officer to use all reasonable and necessary force to return a minor child to the custodial parent at the time the final protective order is served or as soon as possible after entry of the order

2009 – passed bills to facilitate the surrender and removal of firearms in domestic violence cases, in the issuance of temporary protective orders (see SB 268/HB 302 in Legislative Wrap-Up) and in a final protective order (see SB 267/HB 296 in 2009 Legislative Wrap-Up)

2010 – passed bills (see 2010 Legislative Wrap-Up) that expand the current laws on human trafficking; changes penalties from misdemeanor to felony and changes the current prohibitions on human trafficking;
Passed bills (see 2010 Legislative Wrap-Up) to require international marriage brokers to provide basic human rights information to individuals who have been recruited for dating, matrimonial, or social referral services;
Passed bills (see 2010 Legislative Wrap-Up) requiring the posting of signs in lodging establishments where arrests leading to convictions for prostitution, solicitation of a minor, or human trafficking have occurred;
Passed bills (see 2010 Legislative Wrap-Up) authorizing a judge to extend the term of a final protective order for up to two years if, during the term of the protective order, the judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent named in the protective order has committed a subsequent act of abuse against a person eligible for relief named in the protective order.

2011 –passed HB 724 increasing the statute of limitations applicable to the prohibition against nonconsensual sexual contact with another person to three years, if the victim was a minor at the time of the crime.
- passed SB 204/HB 1129 changing the definitions of “sexual act” and “sexual contact” by adding “part of an individual’s body” to the definition of “sexual act” and removing that phrase from the definition of “sexual contact”. In this way, the bills expand the definition of “sexual act” to include certain acts currently defined as “sexual contact.”
- passed SB 196/HB 724 increasing the statute of limitations from one year to three years for the initiation of a prosecution for the fourth degree sex offense involving nonconsensual sexual contact, if the victim was a minor at the time of the offense.
- passed SB 327 authorizing a person convicted of prostitution to file a motion to vacate the judgment if, when the person committed the act of prostitution, the person was acting under duress caused by an act of another committed in violation of the prohibition against human trafficking.
- passed SB 342/HB 667 authorizing a judge, for good cause shown, to extend the term of a final peace order for an additional six months after (1) giving notice to the petitioner and the respondent; and (2) a hearing.
- passed SB 480/HB 666 increasing the penalties for a second or subsequent offense for violating an interim, temporary, or final peace order. Under the Acts, a second or subsequent violation of a peace order is subject to maximum penalties of imprisonment for one year and/or a $2,500 fine.

2012 – passed SB 175/HB 8 prohibiting a person from maliciously engaging in a course of conduct through the use of electronic communication that alarms or seriously annoys another (1) with the intent to harass, alarm, or annoy the other; (2) after receiving a reasonable warning or request to stop by or on behalf of the other; and (3) without a legal purpose. (See 2012 Legislative Wrap-Up under Accomplishments.)

Passed HB 769/SB 291 Unemployment Insurance – Coverage – Victims of Domestic Violence which specifies that an individual is eligible to receive unemployment benefits if the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation determines the individual voluntarily left employment because the individual or the individual’s spouse, minor child, or parent was a victim of domestic violence.

Passed HB 607/SB 352 National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Information – Sign Posting Requirements requiring the State Highway Administration and a business owner of a bus station or truck stop to post a specified National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline information sign in restrooms. (See 2012 Legislative Wrap-Up under Accomplishments.)

Passed HB 860/SB 1082 Children in Need of Assistance – Sexual Abuse – Definition altering the definition of “sexual abuse” in provisions of law relating to a “child in need of assistance” and in provisions of law relating to the reporting and investigation of child abuse and neglect. (See 2012 Legislative Wrap-Up under Accomplishments.)

2013 – passed HB 933 establishing that a person charged with human trafficking of a minor may not assert a defense that the person did not know the age of the victim.

2014 –HB559/SB 818 State Government – Human Trafficking Address Confidentiality Program

SB 50/HB 955 Crimes – Use of Personal I.D. Information or Identity of Another – Sexual Crimes

SB 333/HB 307 Peace Orders and Protective Orders – Burden of Proof

SB 434/HB 647 Peace Orders and Protective Orders – Extensions

- Passed SB 520 Criminal law – Human Trafficking – Affirmative Defense
- Passed HB 456 Workgroup to Study Safe harbor Policy for Youth Victims of Human Trafficking
- Passed SB 498 Public Safety – Statewide Accounting of Sexual Assault Evidence Kits
- Passed SB 270/HB 390 Protective Order and Peace Order Petitions – Maryland Residents
- Passed SB 269/HB 225 Domestic Violence – Additional Relief
- Passed HB 263 Domestic Violence – Permanent Protective Orders – Conspiracy or Solicitation to Commit Murder
- Passed HB 571 Workgroup to Study Safe Harbor Policy for Youth Victims of Human Trafficking

(See 2015 Legislative Wrap-Up)

2016 - The Women’s Caucus supported ten bills, two passed or 20%.
(See 2016 Legislative Wrap-Up)

Violence Against Women in Prison

1998 - passed bill to make it a crime for correctional employees to engage in any sexual acts with inmates.

2007 - passed HB 992 which repeals the prohibition against parole applicable to a 10-year mandatory minimum nonsuspendable sentence of incarceration for second offenders convicted of distributing narcotics and hallucinogens. The bill only applies to a person not convicted of a crime of violence arising out of the incident that resulted in the mandatory minimum sentence.

2014 – HB 27/SB 656 Correctional Services – Healthy Births for Incarcerated Women


2001 - the Women's Caucus and the Black Caucus joined forces to ensure the passage of SB210/HB 306, raising the goal for minority contractors on state-funded proposals from 14 percent to 25 percent. Black and women-owned businesses have been discriminated against and underused in Maryland according to a study by National Economic Research Associated. The increased goals provide 7 per cent for black-owned businesses and 10 percent for women-owned businesses

2004 - SB 323/HB 806 require a local government or private business that receives State funds from the Economic Development Opportunities Program Fund or Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund to agree to encourage the procurement from minority businesses of goods and services purchased with the proceeds from the financial institutions.
- passed SB 324/HB 415 to establish a Task Force on Lending Equity within Financial Institutions Providing State Depository Services. The Task Force is to: (1) identify data to demonstrate whether financial institutions provide adequate access to credit and capital for minority business enterprises; (2) advise the Treasurer in developing additional criteria for selection of financial institutions as depositories; and (3) develop a strategy to implement a lending equity policy. The task force is to submit to the Governor and the General Assembly an interim report on or before December 1, 2004, and a final report on or before September 1, 2005

2005 - establishment of a Task Force on the Establishment of a Maryland Women Veterans Monument. The group will report by December 31, 2005, with recommendations on funding, design, construction and placement of an appropriate monument dedicated to women from Maryland who served in the uniformed forces of the United States.

2007 - passed HB 314/SB 678 creating a civil cause of action in State circuit courts for workplace discrimination without regard to employer size.

2008 - passed bills which prohibit a carrier or an insurance producer of a carrier that provides long-term care insurance from requesting or requiring a genetic test or using specified genetic information to deny or limit coverage or to charge a different rate of the same long-term insurance coverage
- based on the recommendations of the Equal Pay Commission, a bill passed requiring an employer to keep a record of the racial classification and gender of employees - the records must be kept in accordance with the requirements established by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry, who is authorized to analyze the records to study pay disparity issues.

2009 - passed HB 560 which adds disability as a protected class and adds the attempt to commit a crime motivated by bias as a prohibited offense under the law

2011 - passed SB 787/HB 511 requiring the Department of Juvenile Services to submit a report to the General Assembly by December 1, 2011, regarding the manner in which DJS will use existing resources to ensure that females receive services substantially equivalent to those offered to males in fiscal 2013 and subsequent years.
- passed SB 120/HB 456 extending the MBE Program for one year.

2012 – passed HB 1148 Courts – Victims of Crime – Interpreters authorizing a victim or victims’ representative to apply for, and requires the court to appoint, a qualified interpreter if the person is deaf or cannot readily understand or communicate the spoken English language.

Passed HB 1429 State Government – Statue of Harriet Tubman requiring the Governor to authorize a gift of a statue of Harriet Tubman from the citizens of Maryland to the United States government. (See 2012 Legislative Wrap-Up under Accomplishments.)

2013 – passed SB 42/HB 167 establishing Maryland Emancipation Day on November 1st of each year, commemorating November 1, 1864 when Maryland adopted a new constitution that abolished slavery, making it the first state with slaves to voluntarily free it slaves by popular vote.

Passed SB 639 which creates a subtraction modification against the State income tax for the noneconomic damages received by a claimant in satisfaction of a claim of unlawful discrimination.

Passed SB 188/HB 1353 extending the termination date of the MBE program by one year and deferring the completion date of a new disparity study also by one year. The bills further require each procurement unit to implement a program that will enable it to consider the MBE participation and subgoal guidelines when evaluating each procurement contract.

Passed SB 356/HB 698 requiring certain departments to jointly study and evaluate the feasibility of establishing a business development program for ex-offenders. (See more details 2013 Legislative Wrap-Up under Accomplishments.)

Passed HB 804/SB 784 requiring an employer, if an employee requests a reasonable accommodation for a disability caused by or contributed to by pregnancy, to explore all possible means of providing the reasonable accommodation.

Passed SB 633 altering the State share and local matching requirement for the county library grant program, based on the per capita wealth measure used in calculating State aid formula grants for county public libraries. (See 2013 Legislative Wrap-Up)

2014 – SB 737/HB 1026 Labor and Employment – Parental Leave – Birth or Adoption of a Child

2015 - Passed SB 604 Human Relations – Employment Discrimination – Protection for Interns