Annapolis, MD

May 1, 2019

Contact: Delegate Trent Kittleman, President

Catherine Hill, Executive Director

 Phone:            (410) 841-3013

Women’s Caucus Passes Priority Bills, Holds First Annual Women’s Veterans Day

The 2018-19 Maryland Legislative Session was a year of new legislators and new initiatives for the Women’s Legislative Caucus.  With a membership of 72 women legislators – the largest group of women ever to serve in the Maryland Legislature – the Caucus had a successful year on and off the legislative floor.   

Seven Caucus-supported bills passed the Maryland General Assembly including:

Continuing Course of Conduct – Child Sexual Abuse (HB712/SB129) making an important technical correction to the existing legislation enabling the state to file more than one charge against a perpetrator who had committed three or more sexual offenses against a child over multiple 90 day periods.  Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield were the lead sponsors for the bill.

Maternal Mortality Review Program - Reporting Requirement (HB0583/SB0356)  requiring the Secretary of Health to add information on racial disparity to the reporting requirements the Maternal Mortality Review Program.  The legislation also requires that recommendations for reducing the number of maternal deaths, including looking at social determinants of health are included in reporting requirements.  Del. Jheanelle Wilkins was the lead sponsor for this bill.

Public Health – Maternal Mortality Review Program – Establishment of Local Teams (HB0796/SB0602) allowing and helping counties establish local teams to study maternal mortality rates.  Del. Jheanelle Wilkins was the lead sponsor for this bill.

Correctional Facilities – Restrictive Housing – Pregnant Inmates (HB0745/SB0809) limiting when correctional facilities can place pregnant women in medical isolation or solitary confinement. This legislation also requires that state and local correctional and detention facilities have a written policy banning the use of involuntary medical isolation and restrictive housing of pregnant inmates and those in the post-pregnancy recovery period.  The lead sponsor in the Senate was Senator Susan Lee (D16), and the House version was sponsored by Delegate Wanika Fisher (D47B). 

Correctional Services –Prerelease Study and Report (HB0710/SB0821) requiring the Commissioner of Correction to conduct a study on gender-based equity in prerelease programming and facilities and to report to the Governor and the General Assembly on the results of the study by January 1 2020. 

Child Advocacy Centers – Statewide Organization, Duties, and Funding  (HB1007/SB739) requiring that all children in Maryland have  access to a Child Advocacy Centers which serve as “one-stop shops” for help responding to and investigating child sexual abuse. However, the legislation was amended to remove the mandate for a specific level of state funding and it struck down the current law requiring funding in the state budget. Delegate Emily Shetty and Senator Susan Lee were lead sponsors of the bill.

Gender Diversity on the Boardroom Annual Report of Nonprofit Sales and Use of Tax Exemption Application (HB1116 /SB0911) requiring qualifying Maryland companies to provide information regarding the number of women members of their Boards of Directors.  Companies filing personal property reports to the Department of Assessments and Taxation will now include the number of female board members and the total number of Board of Directors. Delegate Shelly Hettleman and Sen. Pam Beidle were the lead sponsors.

Our first annual Women’s Veterans Day on March 13th  

The 2018-19 Session was also a year of new initiatives for the Women’s Caucus including Women Veterans Day on March 13tth, More than 40 women veterans and advocates came to Annapolis to meet with Legislators to discuss issues facing women veterans as they transition back to civilian life. At the behest of the Women’s Caucus, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a House Resolution congratulating the National Guard for its all-female leadership team including Army Major General Linda Singh, 29th Adjutant General of Maryland; Army Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead, assistant adjutant general for Army;  April Vogel, Air Force Brig. General;  Command Sgt. Maj. Perlisa Wilson, senior enlisted adviser for Maryland's National Guard. Jackie Hayes-Bird, Major USAF (RET). The Women’s Caucus looks forward to continuing its work on the challenges facing women veterans next Session.