May 10, 2019

2019 Senate Session Highlights – Senator Susan Lee

The 2019 General Assembly Session ended at midnight on April 9th, capping an eventful legislative session for Senator Susan Lee (District 16 – Montgomery County). In the 2019 session, Lee would be directly involved with some one hundred sixty-one pieces of legislation and serve as the lead sponsor of thirty-seven meaningful bills (you can find a link to each of these bills by clicking here). Of the thirty-seven bills that she carried, thirteen passed both Chambers of the General Assembly and are now poised to become Maryland law.

Senate Bill 129 – Criminal Law – Continuing Course of Conduct With a Child – Unit of Prosecution

This bill establishes that for purposes of prosecution for continuing course of unlawful sexual conduct under § 3-315 of the Criminal Law Article, violations that occur in separate periods of 90 days or more must be considered separate violations.

Senate Bill 130 – Criminal Procedure – Charge by Citation – Violation of Condition of Release

This bill amends § 4-101(c) of the Criminal Procedure Article to reflect recent changes to statute by designating a violation of a condition of pretrial or post-trial release under § 5-213.1 of the Criminal Procedure Article as a crime for which a police officer may not charge by citation.

Senate Bill 138 – Stalking – Violation of Conditions of Release

This bill adds the crime of stalking under § 3-802 of the Criminal Law Article to the list of charges for which a person is statutorily prohibited from violating a condition of pretrial or post-trial release that prohibits contact, harassment, or abuse of the alleged victim or going in or near the alleged victim’s residence or place of employment.

Senate Bill 139 – Criminal Law – Threat of Mass Violence

This emergency bill alters the existing statutory prohibition on knowingly threatening to commit or threatening to cause to be committed a crime of violence, as defined in § 14-101 of the Criminal Law Article, by prohibiting a person from making such a threat that would place five or more people at substantial risk of death or serious physical injury, as defined under § 3-201 of the Criminal Law Article, if the threat were carried out. Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by the existing statutory penalties of imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a $10,000 maximum fine.

Senate Bill 210 – Law Enforcement – Federal Military Surplus Program – Equipment Acquisition

This bill requires the Department of State Police (DSP), by February 1 each year, to report to the Governor and the General Assembly on the acquisition of equipment by law enforcement agencies through “surplus programs” within the preceding calendar year. DSP must include in a prominent location on its public website a link to the Defense Logistics Agency’s report listing excess Department of Defense (DOD) property transfers to law enforcement agencies through the Law Enforcement Support Office.

Senate Bill 212 – Estates and Trusts – Execution of Wills – Presence of Witnesses

This bill specifies that a witness does not satisfy the requirement that a witness to the signing of a will sign the document in the presence of the testator if the witness is in a different physical location from the testator. The bill also makes technical and clarifying changes. The bill applies prospectively, and may not be interpreted to have any effect on any will executed before the bill’s October 1, 2019 effective date.

Senate Bill 567 – Workgroup to Study Child Custody Court Proceedings Involving Child Abuse or Domestic Violence Allegations

This bill establishes the Workgroup to Study Child Custody Court Proceedings Involving Child Abuse or Domestic Violence Allegations, which is to be staffed by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS). By December 1, 2019, the workgroup must submit an interim report to the Governor and the General Assembly; a final report is due by June 1, 2020.

Senate Bill 568 – Crimes – Child Abuse and Neglect – Failure to Report

This bill makes it a misdemeanor for a worker to knowingly fail to provide a required notice or make a required report of suspected child abuse or neglect if the worker has actual knowledge of the abuse or neglect. A violator is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a maximum penalty of up to six months imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine. The bill only applies to a failure to report child abuse or neglect that occurs during the time the child is a minor.

Senate Bill 689 – Criminal Law – Labor Trafficking (Anti-Exploitation Act of 2019)

This bill establishes the offense of labor trafficking, a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 25 years and/or a $15,000 maximum fine. A State’s Attorney or the Attorney General may investigate and prosecute a violation of the bill or of any crime based on the act establishing a labor trafficking violation. If the Attorney General exercises this authority, the Attorney General has all the powers and duties of a State’s Attorney to investigate and prosecute the violation.

Senate Bill 690 – Criminal Law – Human Trafficking and Prostitution Offenses

This bill (1) expands prohibitions on human trafficking; (2) creates separate offenses for behavior similar to behavior currently prohibited under various human trafficking and prostitution statutes; (3) renames “human trafficking” as “sex trafficking”; (4) adds felony sex trafficking under § 3-1102(b) of the Criminal Law Article to the definition of a “crime of violence” under § 14-101 of the Criminal Law Article; and (5) makes corresponding changes to existing statutes to reflect the bill’s alteration of offenses.

Senate Bill 736 – Criminal Law – Child Pornography

This bill expands the prohibition against possession of child pornography under § 11-208 of the Criminal Law Article by prohibiting the knowing possession and intentional retention of a computer-generated image that is “indistinguishable from an actual and identifiable child” (as defined under the bill) younger than age 16.

Senate Bill 739 – Child Advocacy Centers – Expansion

This bill alters and establishes numerous requirements for child advocacy centers in the State. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) must ensure that every child in the State has access to a child advocacy center.

Senate Bill 809 – Correctional Facilities – Restrictive Housing – Pregnant Inmates

This bill prohibits, with specified exceptions, the involuntary placement of a pregnant inmate in restrictive housing and sets forth requirements for when a pregnant inmate is placed in restrictive housing. The bill requires each correctional facility to have a written policy in place regarding the medical care of pregnant inmates that addresses the use of involuntary medical isolation or restrictive housing for administrative, protective, or disciplinary purposes during pregnancy and eight weeks during the postpartum or post-pregnancy recovery period.

After a successful 2019 legislative session, Senator Lee now looks ahead to the 2020 session when she’ll bring with her the experience of another productive and effective year in the Maryland Senate.