Today marks the 100th Maryland Day, commemorating the March 25 landing of the first colonists to the Province of Maryland in 1634. I just walked off of the House floor after the fourth session of the past four days, and I am pleased to report that we were able to pass hundreds of pieces of legislation in time for them to “crossover” to the Senate. A few highlights from the past few days include:
Investing in Baltimore’s Schools:
On Friday, March 22, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill that takes a major step forward toward providing all our students and teachers with the 21st-century school buildings they deserve. HB 860 guarantees annual construction funding for BCPS schools for the next 10 years. Under the bill, funding will come in equal parts from the State, City, and the BCPS system. The bill also authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority to oversee financing and implementation of the district’s 10-year construction plan.
The bill makes approximately $1 billion in investment in new and modernized schools possible, meaning that our City’s schools will have classrooms with modern technology, comfortable temperatures, natural lighting and drinkable water, where students and teachers can focus on teaching and learning. The bill also ensures that all three of the parties – the State, City, and BCPS – are equally invested in the 10-year plan, while taking advantage of the technical, logistical, and financial expertise of the Stadium Authority to oversee the project.
You can find a copy of the bill and related information here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=hb0860&stab=01&pid=billpage&tab=subject3&ys=2013RS
You can find more details about the plan here: http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/cms/lib/MD01001351/Centricity/Domain/1/HB860Overview3_23_13Final.pdf
Protecting People from Sex Offenders
I’m very pleased to report that HB 985, a bill I introduced, passed the House on Saturday, March 23. The bill was reported favorably out of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously on March 21. The bill provides that certain sex offenses, when committed during the course of a burglary, are considered more serious than if they had been committed in another context. By categorizing these crimes as more serious, offenders are also subject to more stringent sex offender reporting requirements than they are under current law.
Clearly, unwanted sexual contact can be extremely disturbing, invasive, traumatizing, and scary for the victim. However, it is even more so when the perpetrator breaks into the victim’s home, invading that most private, personal, space in order to do so. Moreover, the types of offenders who commit sex offenses during a burglary have been shown to be more dangerous and less in control of their behavior than those who do not break into their victim’s homes. For these reasons, I worked with law enforcement and victim advocates to increase the penalties, and the reporting requirements, for offenders in these specific types of cases.
Currently, if a person breaks into someone’s home and gropes or fondles the person (“engaging in sexual contact with another without the consent of the other”) they are guilty of a fourth degree sex offense, which is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to one year and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. Under my bill, if a person engages in nonconsensual sexual contact with another during the course of a burglary (for which they are convicted), they would be guilty of third degree sex offense, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Additionally, under current law, someone found guilty of a fourth degree sex offense is a “Tier I” sex offender, and must register as a sex offender every six months for 15 years. By changing these types of crimes to a third degree sex offense, the offender would be categorized as either a Tier II sex offender, who must register every six months for 25 years, or a Tier III sex offender, who must register every three months for life. I expect this legislation to pass the House in the coming days, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to protect Marylanders from the terrible emotional and physical consequences that disturbed people can inflict on their victims.
You can find more information about the bill here: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2013RS/fnotes/bil_0005/hb0985.pdf.
Thank you for your continued interest and support. As always, you can reach me at 410-841-3303, or at Luke.Clippinger@house.state.md.us. I look forward to “finishing strong” over the next two weeks of the 2013 Legislative Session.