House Judiciary Committee:
Marriage Equality: The Civil Marriage Protection Act was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee on Friday afternoon with a 12-10 vote. The bill now moves to the House floor where discussion will begin next week. Thanks to the overwhelming number of you who have emailed or called me voicing your support! Please continue urging your relatives, friends, and neighbors to call their delegates in support of this bill.
Child Neglect: This past Thursday, the committee held hearings, with testimony from Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and others, on a bill (SB 178/HB 162) that would criminalize the neglect of minors. This bill would make child neglect a felony subject to imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine up to $10,000, or both. Maryland is currently the only state in the country that does not criminalize the neglect of minors.
First Bill Passed: Many of you have asked for me to explain, in layman’s terms, my first bill that passed this week with a 138-0 vote on the House floor. Here is a hypothetical scenario explaining what my particular bill, Petition for Writ of Actual Innocence- Circuit Court Jurisdiction (HB 626), would do:
Person C is convicted of killing Person D.
Person C goes to jail.
C has a certain period of time to ask for a reconsideration of his sentence (because it's too harsh), or a new trial (because the trial/plea was no good).
That time passes.
C is sitting at Jessup or Hagerstown (in jail) when suddenly...there is conclusive, definitive proof that C didn't kill D, Z did.
C then files a writ of actual innocence with the court to say "Hey, look at this (usually DNA evidence). I didn't do it, and if you knew this information at trial, you couldn't have possibly found me guilty.
So C files the writ and, if the court agrees, is released.
Right now, you can seek a writ of actual innocence if you've been convicted of a wide range of crimes, including Disorderly Conduct and the simple possession of drugs. Those lower level crimes weren't what the writ is there to address.
So, my bill limits the availability of the writ to crimes that must be tried in Circuit Court, mainly serious felonies.
Fort McHenry Center: A new $15 million dollar eco-friendly Visitor and Education Center was opened this past Thursday at Fort McHenry. The center is displaying Francis Scott Key’s original draft of the “Star-Spangled Banner” for three and a half months and also has various interactive exhibits where visitors from all over the country can learn about the history of Fort McHenry. Admission to the center is free and the center is open 8AM to 5PM, seven days a week.
New Office Addition: I am thrilled to announce that the 1st graders at Patterson Park Public Charter School named our new Betta fish, Bubbles. Bubbles will accompany (in a different fish bowl) our first fish, Jesse, named by the first graders at Thomas Johnson Elementary School, in my Annapolis office. Our third and final fish will soon be named by the students at Baybrook Elementary School.
Please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-841-3303 about any issue.