Work in Annapolis

Legislative Reports


2020 Maryland NOW Legislative Report

NOTE:  Because of the shortened General Assembly session due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maryland NOW doesn’t have a full legislative report for the 2020 session. The following report was prepared by our colleagues at the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women (MLAW) with notations of any action on these bills which Maryland NOW was following. 


  1. HB 4/SB 208 ▪ Public Safety – Rifles and Shotguns – Secondary Transactions

This bill would close a loophole in Maryland law to require a background check on all gun sales (including unlicensed sellers online or at gun shows). This bill would keep rifles and shotguns out of the hands of people with dangerous histories, including domestic abusers, convicted felons, and subjects of red flag laws.

PASSED – sent to Governor

  1. HB 123/SB 217 ▪ Labor and Employment – Wage History and Wage Range

This bill would prohibit employers from seeking and relying on job applicants’ salary history and requiring employers to provide the salary range for a position upon the applicant’s request. It would ensure that women and people of color aren’t forced to carry lower earnings and pay discrimination with them from job to job.

PASSED – sent to Governor

  1. HB 233/SB 212 ▪ Criminal Law – Assault in the First Degree – Suffocation or Strangulation

This bill would classify intentional suffocation and strangulation as Assault in the First Degree.  Non-fatal strangulation is one of the most significant risk factors for femicide. Prior non-fatal strangulation is associated with a 6-fold increase in attempted homicide and a 7-fold increase in completed homicide.

PASSED – sent to Governor

  1. HB 242/SB 206 ▪ Criminal Procedure – Motion to Vacate Judgment – Human Trafficking (True Freedom Act of 2020)

This bill would allow survivors of human trafficking to remove crimes other than prostitution from their criminal records, increasing the ability of these survivors to access employment and stable housing as well as heal from the trauma of their trafficking experience. Under current law, only prostitution convictions are eligible for vacatur, even though survivors are often forced to commit other crimes.

PASSED – sent to Governor

  1. HB 246/SB 231 ▪ Sexual Solicitation of a Minor – Solicitation Through Parent, Guardian, or Custodian – Prohibition and Penalties

This bill expands the definition of sexual solicitation of a minor to include the solicitation of the parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a minor, or a hypothetical minor.  This bill would close a loophole to deter and prosecute the attempted sexual solicitation of a minor.

PASSED – sent to Governor

  1. HB 248/SB 210 ▪ Protective Orders – Relief Eligibility – Rape and Sexual Offenses

This bill would clarify that a victim of a rape or sexual offense, or attempted rape or sexual offense is eligible for a protective order rather than a peace order.  Despite a change in the law in 2015 moving dating relationships from the peace order to the protective order, some judges do not believe that a victim qualifies, even though there was sexual contact, because the parties were not in a “relationship.” This bill would ensure that victims are eligible for the more extensive protections of a protective order.

PASSED – sent to Governor

  1. HB 590/SB 230 ▪ Criminal Law – Sexual Crimes – Repeal Spousal Defense

This bill would repeal the law allowing marriage as a defense to sex crimes. Currently spouses can only be prosecuted for any sex crime if they have a limited divorce, have lived separated and apart for three months or have a written separation agreement, or if rape involved actual force or threat of force. For other sex crimes, marriage is a complete defense.

Passed House, sent to Senate.  No action in Senate

  1. HB 839/SB 539 ▪ Labor and Employment – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program – Establishment

This bill establishes a family and medical leave insurance fund to provide partial wage replacement for employees who take leave to care for a new child, a family member with a serious health condition, their own serious health condition, or a family member’s military deployment.  It would allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave under certain circumstances.  This program mirrors those in 8 other states and D.C. as well as building on MD law that established a parental leave benefit for state employees in 2018.

No action

  1. HB 608/SB 682 ▪ Correctional Services – Prerelease Unit for Women – Requirement to Operate

This bill would establish a pre-release center for women with re-entry services such as family reunification, employment, housing, and addictions counseling. While there are many pre-release centers for incarcerated men, there are ZERO pre-release centers for women in Maryland.

No action


2019 Maryland NOW Legislative Report


Maryland NOW’s Legislative Priorities for 2019

Final Report

Sandy Bell, Maryland NOW Action Vice-President

Please note The Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women (MLAW) Legislative Agenda’s final report is on their website.  

HB679/SB872 – Harassment – Access to Remedies for All: Sponsors Speaker Busch & Delegate Jones and President Miller & Senator Klausmeier. Committees – Appropriations & Finance.

The General Assembly’s Workplace Harassment Commission issues its report and recommended further discussion of statutory changes to increase access to legal remedies for victims of harassment. MCASA and MD NOW would like to see the General Assembly put forth solutions that help all women, including low income women and women of color who often lack meaningful access to justice.

Passed the House – stalled in Senate after the hearing.

HB958 – Marital Exemption for Sex Crimes: Sponsor Charlotte Crutchfield; hearing in Judiciary.

Maryland allows marriage to be a defense to some sex crimes. This is an archaic law that needs to be removed from the books.

There was no movement on the bill since its hearing. There is no cross filed bill in the Senate.

HB1027/SB736 – Child Pornography: Sponsors Delegate L. Lopez and Senator Lee. Committees – Judiciary & Judicial Proceedings.

This bill would expand Maryland’s definition of child pornography to include sexually graphic images of children and would conform state criminal law to federal criminal law.

After quite a back and forth between the House and Senate, it was passed by both chambers.

HB1096/SB767 and HB1268/SB569 – SAFE Exams – Testing & Funding: Delegate Shelly Hettleman sponsored both in the House.  Senator W. Smith sponsored SB767 & Senator S. Elfreth SB569 in the Senate. Committees – Judiciary and Judicial Proceedings

One bill requires testing of rape kits and the other bill addresses funding.

HB1096/SB767 –   Passed with amendments.

HB1268/SB569 – Passed with amendments.

HB1248/SB933 – SAFE Exams – Reimbursement and Confidentiality: Sponsors Delegate S. Bartlett and Senator J. Waldstreicher.  Committees – Health and Government Operations & Judicial Proceedings.

This bill prevents the government from requiring that hospitals share graphic, private details of sexual assault in order to be reimbursed, and ensures that reimbursement policies are based on current science.

It passed with amendments in the House and stalled in the Senate after the hearing.

SB280/HB166 – Fight for $15: Sponsors Senator McCray and Delegate Fennell. Committees – Finance & Economic Matters.

This bill was to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by fiscal 2024 and by 2026 for tipped workers. It would be indexed to inflation beginning July 1, 2024. It would also eliminate the sub-minimum wage for youth, farmers, tip workers, and seasonal workers.

The bill passed with amendments that will not help all workers. It increases the minimum to $11 on January 1, 2020 and goes up 75 cents every year until 2025. Agricultural workers and workers under 18 will get less. It also did not raise wages for tipped workers. It was vetoed by the Governor, but the Assembly overrode his veto.

SB911/HB1116 – Gender Diversity in the Boardroom:  Sponsor Senator Beidle and Delegate Hettleman. Committees – Budget and Taxation & Ways and Means.

It is the intent of the General Assembly to promote gender diversity in corporate management and boardrooms.

Passed with amendments.

HB715/SB419 – Prerelease Unit for Women: Sponsor Delegate Crutchfield and Senator Washington. Committees – Judiciary & Judicial Proceedings.

Requiring, instead of authorizing, the Commissioner of Correction to operate a prerelease unit for women.

No movement in either chamber.

HB710/SB821 – Prerelease Unit: Sponsor Delegate Crutchfield and Senator Washington. Committees – Judiciary & Judicial Proceedings.

This bill defines the term “prerelease unit” as a separate structure in which certain services are provided and that has security features for an inmate who presents the least risk of violence, presents the least risk of escape, and has a record of satisfactory institutional behavior.  Passed

HB665/SB811 – Family Law Services for Sustained Safety: Sponsors Delegate Lierman and Senator W. Smith. Committees – Judiciary & Judicial Proceedings.

This would provide funding for divorce and custody cases for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.  Passed in the House, stalled in Senate after the hearing.

HB699 – Hate Crime Training for Law Enforcement: Sponsor Delegate Lesley Lopez – Judiciary Committee

No movement.

2018 Maryland NOW Legislative Report


Maryland NOW’s Legislative Priorities for 2018

Final Report

Sandy Bell, Maryland NOW Action Vice-President

Maryland NOW works with other women’s organizations in the state on women’s rights legislation through the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women (MLAW).


A summary of the bills in this year’s agenda can be viewed at


The legislation listed below are additional bills introduced during the legislative session and are ones on which Maryland NOW also worked. Maryland NOW worked on the legislation below in conjunction with other women’s organizations.


HB328/SB121/CH501: Family Law – Domestic Violence – Definition of Abuse

Sponsors: Delegate Dumais, Senator Zirkin

This law would expand the definition of “abuse” as it applies to petitions for domestic violence protective orders to include “misuse of telephone facilities and equipment, electronic communication or interactive computer service, revenge porn, and visual surveillance.” This bill simply aligns the domestic violence protective order definition of abuse with the peace order definition.

PASSED and approved by the Governor – Chapter 501


SB1010/HB1597: Labor and Employment – Sexual Harassment – Contractual Waivers and Reporting Requirements. Also known as #Me Too Maryland

Sponsor: Senator Zucker, Delegate Valderrama

The purpose of this bill is to provide that a provision in certain employment contracts, policies, or agreements that waive certain rights or remedies to a claim of sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation is null and void as being against the public policy of the State; prohibiting an employer from taking adverse actions against certain employees; providing that employers are liable for attorney’s fees; requiring certain employers to submit a report to the Commission on Civil Rights on or before a certain date each year; requiring the Commission to publish and make accessible to the public on the Commission’s website the reports; defining certain terms generally relating to sexual harassment in the workplace.

PASSED Enrolled and approved by the Governor – Chapter 739


SB965/HB1152: Family Law – Age of Majority – Jurisdiction of Court

Sponsors: Senator Lee, Delegate Hill

This bill would allow child support to continue past the age of 18. An equity court would retain jurisdiction for the purpose of awarding child support, in accordance with the child support guidelines, for a child who has attained the age of 18 and who is enrolled in secondary school; providing that an equity court shall retain jurisdiction for the purpose of awarding support for a young adult who has attained the age of 18 and who is not enrolled in secondary school; etc.

Unfavorable Report by Judicial Proceedings, withdrawn; and Unfavorable report by Judiciary


HB664/SB543: Labor and Employment – Payment of the Minimum Wage Required (Fight for Fifteen)


This bill would gradually increase the minimum wage – based on the annual growth in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area – to $15 per hour by 2023; beginning July 1, 2026, the bill would also prohibit an employer from including the tip credit amount as part of the wage of certain employees.

No movement in either chamber past hearings.


HB797/SB598: Correctional Services – Inmates – Menstrual Hygiene Products

Sponsors: Delegates Queen & Dumais, Senators Lee & Kelley

This bill requires all corrections facilities in the state of Maryland to provide menstrual hygiene products to inmates free of charge and in the quantities they need.

PASSED and approved by the Governor Chapter 254 & 255


SB170/HB388: Criminal Procedure – Violation of Conditions of Release

Sponsors: Senator Lee, Delegate A. Miller

This bill expands the list of charges that someone being charged with a crime is prohibited from engaging in during the pretrial or posttrial release. The change specifically addresses actions against a victim who is a minor, and prohibits contact, harassment, or abuse of the alleged victim or going in or near the alleged victim’s residence or place of employment.

PASSED and approved by the Governor Chapter 427 & 428