For the 433rd time in the history of Maryland, the legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly has come to an end. It has been a great honor and privilege to serve my first term in the House as your delegate, fighting for the issues that matter to us all as Baltimoreans. This session saw us wrestle with a number of issues including the annual budget, minimum wage, marijuana, and civil rights. I met with advocates, stakeholders, and experts from around the state to flesh out issues that would be at the forefront of this 90 day session. My hope in writing you is to alert you to some of the battles we fought this session.
This session we fought to protect every person who travels on the road, as well as increasing the safeguards that protect our young children across the state. We also sought and were able to achieve a raise in the minimum wage. Please find below some of the bills I sponsored this session:
House Bill 1212- Jake’s LawI am pleased to announce the Governor has signed Jake’s Law, HB 1212. Jake’s Law will increase the penalties faced by drivers found guilty of causing death or serious bodily injury as a result of texting or using a cell phone while driving. This important legislation will also go a long way towards preventing other families from having to suffer the same loss and pain.
House Bill 307 - Peace Orders and Protective Orders
I co-sponsored House Bill 307 which will lower the standard of proof needed to get a final protective order hearing from “clear and convincing evidence” to a showing of a “preponderance of evidence.” This legislation will help victims of abuse come forth in order to get the protection they need.
I was pleased to work with Cynthia M. Lifson, Legislative Counsel, Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, who said, “The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, our state coalition that fights domestic violence throughout Maryland, joins in celebrating with Del. Clippinger the passage through the House Judiciary Committee of HB 307. This bill corrects a long-standing problem in our Code by changing the standard of proof in final protective order hearings to preponderance of the evidence. This standard is the one that is used in all other U.S. jurisdictions in domestic violence proceedings. Delegate Clippinger’s knowledge of the law, commitment to public safety, and ability to persuade his colleagues are hallmarks of his excellence. He is definitely a “go-to” guy!"
House Bill 1265/ Senate Bill 212 - Fairness for all Marylanders
The Fairness for All Marylanders Act will help prohibit discrimination against transgender people in employment, housing and public places. I was pleased to be the House sponsor of this legislation. Over the last ten years, there have been several debates over whether to pass a bill protecting transgender individuals. I am proud of the hard work of my fellow legislators and advocacy groups like Equality Maryland who helped make this possible.
Carrie Evans, Executive Director of Equality Maryland, said, “Many things came together during the 2014 legislative session to set the stage for the passage of The Fairness for All Marylanders Act. One of the essential pieces was having Del. Luke Clippinger as our lead sponsor in the House. His pursuit of co-sponsors for the bill was relentless, right up to the deadline! His hard work in securing 61 sponsors of the bill was instrumental in building the momentum this bill needed in 2014. It was his leadership that helped secure the 82 votes the bill got on final passage in the House of Delegates. All of us who worked with him on this bill have no doubt this law would not have passed without his tenacity and commitment to ensuring that transgender Marylanders will no longer be denied basic rights just because of their gender identity.”
House Bill 781 - Person in Position of Authority
This legislation is of great importance and was needed to protect the children and families of Maryland. Protecting children from those in our society who would prey on their innocence has long been at the heart of my legislative efforts. I have worked extensively with policy experts, including those at Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA), to craft legislation that will protect children from predators who use their positions to exploit children and teens in their care.
Before this legislation passed, the law addressed sexual exploitation of children in two ways: through laws prohibiting people from having sex with children under the age of 16 (or under 14 for some types of contact) and by laws on “sexual abuse of a minor”. Age-based laws stop at age 16. Full-time, permanent teachers are also prohibited from having sex with their students – but they have to be full-time permanent employees of a pre-school, elementary school, or secondary school.
Prior to this legislation passing, the law, for example, would prohibit a coach from having sex with their student during a sporting event involving the teen because the teen would be under the coach’s supervision. The law would not prohibit the same sexual activity during “off” hours when the child was not in the coach’s care. Adults with authority over 16 and 17 year olds have the authority and influence over the child all of the time.
Imagine the 16 year old Olympic hopeful, striving to make a spot on the US team: that teenager’s coach holds the dreams of the child in his or her hands. Our laws now protect the adolescent under the coach’s authority. We will not permit the coach to have sex with the child. This legislation would fixes the loophole and would prohibit sexual activity during “off” hours when the child is no longer in the coach’s care but still technically in a position of authority over the child.
Lisae C. Jordan, Executive Director and Counsel, Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, wrote to me, “I just wanted to take a moment at the end of this term to once again say thank you for your commitment to ending sexual violence. Your work as a legislator provides consistent, meaningful, and helpful support for the bills that will make a difference in the lives of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
In reviewing MCASA's legislative priorities over the past four years, it is clear that you have made a real difference. This past session your leadership was crucial to the passage of HB781/SB460. After more than a decade of advocacy, a loophole allowing part-time school employees and contractors to sexually exploit teenagers was closed. Your work as lead sponsor of the House Bill helped make Maryland's teenagers safer.
Technology has changed the way child pornographers operate. As a result, law enforcement needed more time to investigate these cases and search the technology where child pornography is stored. You responded to the requests of law enforcement and advocates and passed a bill to expand the statute of limitations so we have the time we need to build strong cases.
You also supported successful efforts to improve the evidence laws and give juries the information they need in child sexual abuse cases (HB859-2011), eliminate archaic distinctions between fingers and objects in our sex crimes laws (HB1128-2011), and pass legislation that allows us to seize the assets of human traffickers (HB713 - 2013). This session, before the Governor decided to put the issue on his agenda, you also introduced a bill to change the standard of proof in protective and peace order cases. While the Governor's bill superseded yours, you continued to be a leader in this effort and, as a result, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault will have more protection.
There are other bills you co-sponsored and even more that you helped advocate for as a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Thank you for being so effective and for using your position to help victims of sexual assault become survivors.”
Automated Purchasing Machines
The legislature passed legislation regulating APMs. Parts of the bill that I introduced were included in the final legislation that passed. This legislation will regulate machines like "Eco-ATM", which is a machine that pays cash for used, and sometimes stolen, cell phones and other electronics. The legislation that passed will regulate these machines and put in place safeguards to ensure that law enforcement is able to use the information from these machines to catch cell phone thieves.
House Bill 295 – Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014
For some time, I have been an advocate for raising the minimum wage to $10.10, a move that will go a long way towards helping working families and citizens around the state make ends meet easier. I co-sponsored the Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014 for this reason. Raising Maryland’s minimum wage will also inject nearly $456 million in new spending, a boost that all Marylanders will be able to experience and benefit from for years to come.
It has been my pleasure to serve as your voice in Annapolis for the past four years, and I hope to have your support for four more.
Thanks for all of your help,
Democrat for Delegate-District 46