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2014 Final Legislative Report

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014: adds gender identity to current anti-discrimination law. We provided testimony.  PASSED with amendments

The Minimum Wage Act of 2014: – raises the minimum wage to $8.20 per hour beginning July 1, 2014, then to $10.10 by July 1, 2016 with raises thereafter ties to the Consumer Price Index.  It will also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from 50% of the minimum wage to 70%.

The bill PASSED  but it extends the incremental increase to 2018, doesn’t include automatic raises, allows a lower wage for employees under 20 and does not include an increase for tipped workers.

Criminal Law – Crimes Committed in the Presence of a Minor – Penalties: allows for an enhanced penalty when a crime of violence is committed in the presence of a minor, when a person knows or reasonably should know a minor is present. There were two bills introduced which were so similar that amendments combined the two which was then PASSED.

Income Tax – Rate and Subtraction Modification – Parental Leave for Employees: Encourages employers to provide up to 8 weeks of leave during the birth or adoption of a child.  In return, the employer would be able to take a proportionate income subtraction modification. This bill which was sponsored by Delegate Aruna Miller did not make it out of committee.

DO NOT SUPPORT

MARYLAND ESTATE TAX – UNIFIED CREDIT: increases the Maryland estate tax exemption from the current level of $1 million to the federal level of 5.34 million. Passed

Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women’s Sponsored Bills

MARYLAND EARNED SICK AND SAFE LEAVE ACT: This bill requires Maryland employers to allow workers to earn a limited number of annual paid sick and safe days.  The “safe time” component of the legislation requires employers to allow victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault to use their accrued paid sick leave to care for their health after these incidents or to seek legal protections or new housing. No action was taken in Senate Finance or House Economic Matters committees.

PARENTAL LEAVE AT THE BIRTH OR ADOPTION OF A CHILD: Employees at businesses with fewer than 50 staff are not currently protected by the federal Family Medical Leave Act.  This bill expands legally protected job security for new parents at businesses with 15-49 employees by providing them with the option of talking up to six weeks of unpaid time off at the birth or adoption of a child in a 12 month period under specified circumstances.  Also includes certain requirements and restrictions on the use of the leave. PASSED

CORRECTIONAL SERVICES – Healthy Births for Incarcerated Women Act: This bill will prohibit the use of a physical  restraint on an inmate while the inmate is in labor or during delivery except under certain circumstances. Requires the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and other officials to develop policies for each correctional facility. PASSED

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – PERMANENT FINAL PROTECTIVE ORDERS: The legislation makes it easier for domestic violence victims to obtain permanent protective orders.  It adds the crime of second degree assault to the list of enumerated crimes, a significant change because many domestic violence perpetrators are convicted of second degree assault. As amended, it also alters the language of the law so that the respondent must serve at least 12 months rather than five years of the sentence. PASSED

PEACE ORDERS AND PROTECTIVE ORDERS – BURDEN OF PROOF: This bill changes the burden of proof for those who seek final protective and peace orders from “clear and convincing evidence” that abuse has occurred to “preponderance of the evidence.” This is the traditional standard of proof in civil cases, including matters related to families, and is the standard required in every other state in the country. PASSED

RAPE SURVIVOR FAMILY PROTECTION ACT (AKIN’S LAW): This bill would give rape victims a process to terminate parental rights of rapists when a child is conceived as a result of rape.  Victims would be required to meet a clear and convincing standard of evidence.  This is the same standard used for termination of parental rights cases – no higher, no lower. Passed the Senate, but no vote in the House Judiciary Committee

PROTECTIVE ORDERS –Persons Eligible for Relief: This bill would move dating violence and sexual assault out of the Peace Order statute and into the Protective Order statute, by adding an individual who has had a consensual or nonconsensual sexual relationship with the respondent.  Passed the Senate, but no vote in the House Judiciary Committee

 

Maryland NOW works in coalition with many other organizations, and for the most part supports the same legislation they do to improve the lives of women and their families. Examples include the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women, Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Working Matters, Progressive Maryland and Equality Maryland.

 

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