PRESS RELEASE, Annapolis, MD, Monday, April 9, 2018

    Contact: Delegate Ariana Kelly,  President, Women Legislators of Maryland, 301-858-3642

    MD Women's Legislative Caucus Flexes Muscle in a Year of the Woman!

    Caucus Passes 10 Priority Bills, including Landmark Sexual Harassment Legislation

    As the 2018 Maryland Legislative Session adjourns sine die, the Women’s Legislative Caucus led by President Ariana Kelly (D-District 16) is celebrating unprecedented success. 

    This year the Women's Caucus led the way to landmark Anti-Sexual Harassment Legislation and pushed for the long overdue passage of the Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act. Overall, the Women’s Caucus successfully passed ten of their priority pieces of legislation, including two bills to protect sexual assault survivors that have struggled for passage for more than a decade.

    "This was an incredible year for the Women Legislators. We passed multiple pieces of major legislation that will help Maryland's women. Together, we demonstrated our state's renewed commitment to empowerment and equality for women as part of a much larger movement for women's political power across the country," said President Ariana Kelly (D-District 16). 

     The 2018 Session has been a game changer for the Women’s Caucus with the passage of its landmark sexual harassment legislation SB1138/HB1342: State Government - Harassment and Discrimination. Under the leadership of President Ariana Kelly and Immediate Past President Aruna Miller, the Caucus began its work on sexual harassment policy in the legislative community back in 2016, making the Caucus an early voice in the #Me Too movement.  

    This February, after 18 months of extensive research and consultations with state and national experts and colleagues from state legislatures, the Women's Caucus workgroup, Co-Chaired by Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo and Delegate Carole Krimm issued 22 recommendations for improving sexual harassment policy to strengthen accountability mechanisms, create culture change, and make our reporting process in Annapolis more accessible and confidential.  

    "This is landmark legislation that will protect people and improve the culture in Annapolis for women. It also makes Maryland a leader in the nation for sexual-harassment prevention policies. The Women Legislators were proud to partner with women lobbyists and staffers to reform and update our sexual harassment policies. We are deeply grateful to all the women who shared their deeply personal stories in order to help other women who will follow in our footsteps in Maryland politics," said Women's Caucus President Ariana Kelly (D-District 16). 

    Sponsored by Delegate Ariana Kelly, SB1138/HB 1342: State Government - Harassment and Discrimination requires the use of an independent investigator when sexual harassment or retaliation complaints are made against a legislator, removing the investigation from the political process. It also prohibits lobbyists from engaging in sexual harassment of other lobbyists, staff, interns, or legislators. Perhaps most gratifying for the Caucus is the bill’s provision that the Legislative Policy Committee will specifically review and consider the Women's Caucus 22 Policy Recommendations to Prevent Harassment.

    The Women’s Caucus also played an important role in the passage of the SB270/HB301: Repeat Sexual Predator Bill which allows prior sexual predatory behavior to be used in criminal prosecutions of alleged sex offenders. Passed just days before the end of session, this legislation puts Maryland in line with similar laws already on the books in 37 other states. More than 15 years in the making, the Caucus’ efforts to educate members of both parties over the interim and bi-partisan advocacy helped push the bill passed the finish line just days before the end of session. 

    Eight additional Caucus-supported bills passed this year that strengthen protections for survivors of domestic violence, improve legal protections for survivors of sexual violence, address the mortality rates of African American mothers and infants and otherwise contribute to the well-being of women and their families in Maryland.

    To celebrate our unprecedented success, each of the lead sponsors of our legislative priorities were awarded a Women's Caucus Legislative Champion Award. 

    Our Top Ten! 2018 Women's Caucus-Supported Bills that Passed Both Chambers

    1) SB1138/HB1342: State Government - Harassment and Discrimination: Overhauls sexual harassment prevention training, reporting and investigation procedures for the legislative branch. Requires independent investigators for complaints filed against legislators. Makes sexual harassment by a lobbyist towards any member of the legislative community unlawful. Prohibits the use of state funds for settling sexual harassment claims.  Delegate Ariana Kelly and Senator Joan Carter Conway

    2) SB270/HB301: Repeat Sexual Predator Bill: Allows prosecutors to introduce evidence of sexually assaultive behavior that occurred before or after a defendant's alleged offense. Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary and Senator Jim Brochin 

    3) SB0002/CH0003: Children Conceived without Consent-Termination of Parental Rights: (Rape Survivor Family Protection Act): After nearly a decade of efforts by advocates, this legislation was signed by the Governor on February 13th meaning that Maryland will no longer be one of a handful of states without a law supporting victims of rape who wished to terminate the parental rights of their attacker. Delegate Kathleen Dumais and Senator Brian Feldman

    4) SB402/HB251: Education-Family Life and Human Sexuality Curriculum-Boundaries and Consent: Requires Maryland public schools to include age-appropriate instruction on consent and boundaries be taught in our schools’ sex education classes. After the bill faltered on the last day of the 2017 session, it was gratifying to see the legislation enacted swiftly with bipartisan support this year. Delegate Ariana Kelly and Senator Craig Zucker

    5) SB266/HB716: Maryland Health Care Commission-Mortality Rates of African American Infants and Infants in Rural Areas-Study: Requires that the Maryland Health Care Commission and the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities conduct a study to address unacceptable racial and geographic disparities that exist among infant mortality rates in Maryland. The Caucus looks forward to the Commission’s recommendation which the Commission is required to complete no later than June 2019. Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam and Delegate Robbyn Lewis

    6) SB341/HB1118: Hunting-Required Outerwear-Daylight Fluorescent Pink: will allow hunters to wear daylight fluorescent pink outerwear when hunting in addition to orange. Senator Addie Eckardt and Delegate Christopher Adams

    7) SB578/HB633: Secretary of State -Address Confidentiality Programs-Shielding of Real Property Records: Allows domestic abuse and human trafficking victims to keep real estate property records private, that are normally public information, if they are enrolled in the address confidentiality program. Delegate Anne Healey and Senator Susan Lee 

    8) SB170/HB388: Criminal Procedure-Violation of Condition of Release: Enables police to arrest domestic abusers who violate a condition of pretrial or post-trial release that prohibits the person contacting the victim before or after trial. The passage of this law adds an important tool for protecting survivors of domestic violence. Delegate Aruna Miller and Senator Susan Lee.  

    9) SB598/HB797: Correctional Services-Inmates-Menstrual Hygiene Products:  Requires officials to make sure women in correctional facilities have a sufficient supply of free menstrual hygiene products. Delegate Pam Queen and Senator Susan Lee

    10) HB1518: Public Health-Maternal Mortality Review-Committee: Designed to address the disparities in maternal death rates for African American women, this legislation requires the Maternal Mortality Review Committee to meet twice a year with impacted stakeholders and community organizations and include their recommendations in its annual report. This legislation ensures that those most impacted are at the table and driving the solutions.  Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins





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